Are we there yet mum?
Are we there yet mum?
On the road to housing accessibility for all
Way back in 2010, there was a consensus from government, property developers, and advocates for older people and people with disability for basic access features to be rolled out in all new homes by 2020. Well that is just next year, and it is clear, that we aren’t there yet! It’s still a very long road.
During the recent federal election, you may remember that one of the candidates, who happened to have a physical disability, spoke up about not being able to live in the electorate she was standing for. This is because she was unable to find a house that was accessible for her in that electorate, ie that would meet her specific needs. This was confirmed by a local real estate agent in that same electorate, who soon clarified that accessible housing is a rare commodity in that outer Brisbane locality. The sales and marketing consultant said that it is “very seldom” the agency gets homes on the books that are wheelchair friendly.
This is not a rare thing, all around Australia. And the world.
While wheelchair users, as a specific group of people with disability, are a small proportion of the population, accessibility features are also important for people to age in place. The basic design features for minimum universal design includes features such as:
- a level point of entry to the dwelling
- step-free showers that allow for seated use
- toilets in a ground floor bathroom with room to manoeuvre
- wider doorways and corridor widths
Ultimately, accessibility in housing is just about “thoughtful design and usability for the maximum number of people.”
Gong Life Care Solutions staff meet many people who are elderly and/or have physical disabilities, and their families. We are very aware of many of the issues people face with regard to maintaining mobility and independence, not to mention comfort and safety. Currently 35.9% of Australia’s 8.9 million households include a person with disability. 1.8 million or 50.7 % of Australians aged 65 and over have a disability, compared to 1 in 8 (12.5 %) aged under 65. As times goes on and our population ages further, these rates will rise.
The World Health Organisation published a report in 2018 called WHO Housing and Health Guidelines which brings together the most recent evidence to provide practical recommendations on reducing health burden due to unsafe and substandard housing. It covers four domains:
- Inadequate living space (crowding)
- Low and high indoor temperatures
- Injury hazards in the home
- Accessibility of housing for people with functional impairments.
The guidelines assert that:
“Housing can expose people to a number of health risks…structurally deficient housing increases the likelihood that people slip or fall, increasing the risk of injury. Poor accessibility… puts disabled and elderly people at risk of injury, stress and isolation”
At the recent ATSA Independent Living Expo in Sydney, visitors showed tremendous interest in our equipment designed for use in the home – essentially, products to assist mobility and independence in homes that were not built with accessibility in mind. For example, there was great interest in our KMINA indoor rollator or wheely-walker. One of the most important walking aids used by older people in the home or out and about, is the rollator. They come in many shapes and sizes, and provide increased security, balance, and a place to store things while mobile.
Rollator for sale - the KMINA Indoor Rollator – why is it so special?
Gong Life Care Solutions supplies a very light-weight but strong, folding rollator walker. https://gonglcs.com.au/products/kmina-rollator
Our KMINA indoor rollator is especially designed for indoor use, and contributes to a user’s sense of independence and safety walking around at home. People with conventional outdoor walking frames or rollators often abandon their use of the rollator indoors, as they can be heavy and wide and difficult to manoeuvre in the home. However, our KMINA rollator, at just 54cm in width, is narrow enough to easily get through doorways and around furniture. It has a single handlebar, which is easy to manage and really assists stability, balance and manoeuvrability. There are 5 click-in height adjustment settings, which are easily managed.
Users love this rollator because it weighs only 5.5kgs and it folds and unfolds easily for putting into the boot of the car, or storing in the house when not in use. It has a cable braking system and the brakes can be applied by either hand, or both hands, greatly assisting people who have lost the use of one arm or hand, or are weak on one side. Another feature that users find really convenient is the flat stable tray top which comes in very handy when preparing food or a drink, and taking it to another room. And of course a wheely walker with basket helps the user to carry items around the home.
Our quality walker is certified by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and European Conformity (CE). It is designed for people who have moderate to low dependence, who are able to walk with some assistance, but desire more independence around the home. The KMINA rollator will improve a user’s confidence in moving around safely in the home and promote their independence and sense of well-being.
Another product which invited lots of interest at the Expo because of the difficulties people have with home bathrooms, was our battery-operated home bath lift - Relaxa Bathlift. It’s a motorized bath lift designed for use by elderly people or those who find getting in and out of the bath or shower increasingly more difficult.
See the video demonstration on our website: https://gonglcs.com.au/products/relaxa-bathlift
- Dr Jane Bringolf, a director of the Centre for Universal Design Australia, cited in Willow Aliento – Oxygen Files | 18 April 2019 https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/residential-2/what-peter-dutton-and-the-building-industry-need-to-know-about-housing-for-all (accessed May 2019)
- Willow Aliento – Oxygen Files | 18 April 2019 https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/residential-2/what-peter-dutton-and-the-building-industry-need-to-know-about-housing-for-all (accessed May 2019)
- Dr Jane Bringolf op.cit.
- Cited on website of The Australian Network on Disability https://www.and.org.au/pages/disability-statistics.html sourced from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016, 4430.0 - Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2015, viewed 24 February 2017. (accessed online May 2019)
- WHO Housing and Health Guidelines, 2018 https://www.who.int/sustainable-development/publications/housing-health-guidelines/en (accessed online May 2019)
- WHO Housing and Health Guidelines, Executive Summary, 2018, p. 4 https://www.who.int/sustainable-development/publications/housing-health-guidelines/en (accessed online May 2019)
For more information, contact us on 1300 907 280, Tues to Fri, 8.00 am – 5.00 pm AEDT or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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