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Local experts reveal their top tips on how to future-proof your comfort at home

PUBLISHED: 14:36 23 August 2019

Shower with a seat from the Age UK range. Picture: Age UK

Shower with a seat from the Age UK range. Picture: Age UK

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Need to make adaptations for easier living but don't want white plastic grab rails cluttering up your home? We look at adjustments that can be stylish as well as genuinely useful.

A bathroom including a bench seat in the shower area, such as this from Norwich Bathroom and Kitchens, can be an ideal stylish solution for easier living. Picture NBKA bathroom including a bench seat in the shower area, such as this from Norwich Bathroom and Kitchens, can be an ideal stylish solution for easier living. Picture NBK

Whether it's us wondering what could make life comfier and easier at home or if we're considering options or a less mobile friend or relative, the stereotypical image of cheap-looking eye-grabbing white plastic accessories fills our minds.

But manufacturers and craftsmen are ahead of our thoughts and good looking but workable adjustments, accessories and fittings are possible.

While we may remember Grandpa needing a couple of us to pull him up off the sofa or see him consigned to a hard and high seat, now we can keep our favourite chair with the help of a chair raiser, which lifts the whole chair, or a riser cushion which can help lift the sitter up or lower them down. Chairs with build in riser systems are available too in numerous styles, so they don't have the appearance of a mobility aid.

Companies such as JKA Home solutions of Aylsham Road, Norwich, are experts in stylish adaptations from replacing baths with classy wet rooms, fitting level access showers, ramps, widening doorways, garage conversions, rails and accessible kitchens. Bathroom doors can be altered to swing outwards or altered for a sliding door. This could be useful in the event of a fall, when someone could get trapped behind an inward opening door.

A bathroom including a bench seat in the shower area, such as this from Norwich Bathroom and Kitchens, can be an ideal stylish solution to the need for easier living. Picture: NBKA bathroom including a bench seat in the shower area, such as this from Norwich Bathroom and Kitchens, can be an ideal stylish solution to the need for easier living. Picture: NBK

Stylish seats can be added to showers, either as fold away options which flatten against the shower wall or built into the design and tiled to match the shower walls. With the trend for wood returning this winter, solid wooden benches wouldn't look amiss in the shower.

Bathroom designers will have ideas for grab rails which don't obviously look like grab rails, and have other mobility friendly suggestions too.

Rachel Harris, Brand & Marketing Manager and Diss Branch Manager for Norwich Bathrooms and Kitchens (NBK) suggest looking at the options available: "Making adaptations to accommodate advancing years or differing needs doesn't mean having to compromise on quality or looks. There is plenty of choice."

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Kitchens can be made usable for people of different heights and mobility, and not necessarily by replacing the entire kitchen. This can include rise and fall sink and hob units, rise and fall work areas and drop down racking, say Jamie Whitlam and Andy Stewart Andy and Julian of JKA home Solutions.

A corridor style kitchen can be useful for those who may need to use the work surfaces for support, or handrails which fit with the existing kitchen design can be installed along the sides of the worktops.

Slip resistant flooring, which doesn't look like 'safety' flooring, can be fitted throughout your home, and while occ8tpation therapists pinpoint rugs as trip hazards, anti slip mats under the rug can help stop it moving.

Helen Mahon, of Dream Doors Norfolk, offers a large number of solutions for 'futurising' our homes.

"We often get asked to make adjustments for disabilities or old age and it's something that can easily be accommodated. To be honest I think if you are 50 -60 plus and having a new kitchen put it, it's sensible to consider things that might make life easier a few years down the track and there are lots of simple things that will still give you a stylish kitchen," she says.

Among other solutions she highlights easy to grip taps and cupboard handles, internal drawers added to base units which bring the contents of the cupboard to you so you do not have to get down (and up again) on hands and knees to reach the back of cupboards and installing an oven into a tower unit rather than under a counter to save bending down to take hot heavy stuff out of the oven.

"The Neff Slide and Hide ovens are a fantastic idea in terms of access as the door slides right under the bottom of the oven so you don't have to reach to get things out," she adds.

Kitchen, bathroom and tech experts will also be able to offer high tech solutions and ideas too, from kitchen appliances that can re-order supplies when we're running low to smart systems to control heating, lighting, security and home entertainment.

If an assessment is needed to discover what design changes, adaptations and accessories may help, contact local social services and ask for an occupational therapy or Trusted Assessor assessment.

Visit the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF)'s free online self assessment tool which offers advice, suggestions and supplier details depending on the answers given to easy to follow questionnaires.

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