Making kitchens accessible to all

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By James Dadd, Marketing Director at AKW

With 18% of the UK population aged 65 and over and this figure predicted to rise over the coming years, it is no surprise that the market for accessible kitchens and bathrooms is on the increase. Ensuring independent and safe living for kitchens can be a real challenge, as they go against the design norms that installers are used to in standard kitchens. Here are some tips to consider when designing an accessible kitchen:

Think mobility, not just fixtures and fittings – The key to creating a successful kitchen that works for the whole household, is to first understand the mobility issues faced by the client. A kitchen that works well for the whole family takes into account things such as wheelchair turning circles and client strength, reach, mobility and grip challenges.

Work with the experts

AKW’s kitchen design experts often organise joint visits with installers and occupational therapists to a client’s home, to build on the information contained in the referral. This ensures that every aspect of the client’s mobility issues have been understood and taken into account.

Made to Measure

Once a client’s capabilities and special issues have been understood, it is then possible to tailor the space to ensure that as much of the kitchen as possible will be accessible to them. This includes using pull out work surfaces, drop down units and rotating corner unit shelves if needed. If installing a kitchen in a narrow space, the turning circle can be increased using raised height, recessed or rebated plinths to allow the wheelchair footrest to rotate under each unit. Such design details also allow the user to get closer to the work surfaces as needed.

From ergonomic triangle to linear

The design concept behind most modern kitchens is based on incorporating three out of the four major products in the kitchen into an ergonomic triangle. However, with inclusive kitchen design, the main priority is to develop a linear layout, so that food can be transferred sideways along the work surface from the hob to the sink, from the prep area to the oven and back to the bench. The aim of inclusive kitchen design is to eradicate the need for the user to have to lift heavy, hot pans out of an oven and twist to place them on a bench situated behind them.

Building safety into the design

AKW builds safety into all its kitchen equipment. The ActivMotion kitchen work surfaces all have limit switches to ensure that they can’t lower down too far and cause injury. In addition, the sinks are insulated underneath to eradicate any risk of scalding for a wheelchair user – and hobs can be installed with front controls for easier use.

Attention to detail is the key to designing a successful accessible kitchen. From the production of 2D and 3D proposed kitchen plans, to unit construction and expert phone support during installation, AKW supports installers to create truly tailored kitchen solutions that are built to last.

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