By Paul Amadeus Lane
Inviting someone over in a wheelchair may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning, you can make your home accessible and welcoming to all your guests.
Here are a few things to consider:
- The type of wheelchair your guest uses. There are two main types of wheelchairs: manual and power. Manual wheelchairs are propelled by the user, while power wheelchairs are operated using a joystick or other control device.
- The accessibility of your home. Is your front door wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through? Do you have steps or a ramp? Are your doorways wide enough? Is your bathroom accessible?
- The needs of your guest. What kind of assistance do they need when getting around? Do they need to use a walker or cane? Do they have any other mobility issues?
Here are some specific tips for making your home more accessible:
- Remove any obstacles from the entryway. This includes things like rugs, plants, and furniture.
- Make sure your doorways are wide enough. Most wheelchairs are about 27 inches wide, so doorways should be at least 32 inches wide.
- If you have stairs, install a ramp. Ramps should have a slope of no more than 1:12.
- Make sure your bathroom is accessible. This includes having a wide enough doorway, a grab bar next to the toilet, and a roll-in shower or bathtub.
If you’re not sure whether your home is accessible, ask your guest. They can tell you what their specific needs are and whether your home can accommodate them.
Here are some additional tips for hosting a guest in a wheelchair:
- Let your guest know what to expect. Before they arrive, tell them about the layout of your home and any potential obstacles.
- Offer to help them get around. If your guest needs help getting from one room to another, offer to assist them.
- Be mindful of the placement of furniture. Make sure there is enough space for your guests to maneuver their wheelchair around your home.
- Be patient and understanding. It may take your guest longer to get around your home. Be patient and understanding and offer to help them in any way you can.
Despite all these precautions, it’s still possible to have embarrassing moments when you’re in a wheelchair. Here are a few examples:
- Ripping people’s rugs: This is a common problem, especially if the rug has a high pile. When you roll over a high-pile rug, your wheels can catch and tear the rug.
- Scraping walls and doorways: This can happen if you’re not careful when maneuvering your wheelchair. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to be careful when making turns.
- Running over pets: This is a rare occurrence, but it can happen. If you have pets, make sure to keep them out of the way when you’re using your wheelchair.
How to avoid embarrassing moments
The best way to avoid embarrassing moments is to be aware of your surroundings and to be careful when maneuvering your wheelchair. Here are a few additional tips:
- Take your time. There’s no need to rush. It’s better to take your time and be careful than to try to hurry and end up making a mistake.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. Pay attention to where you’re going and be aware of any potential hazards.
- Ask for help if you need it. If you’re not sure whether you can fit through a doorway or over a threshold, ask for help.
- Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. If you do have an embarrassing moment, don’t beat yourself up about it. Everyone has embarrassing moments from time to time. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move on.
Being proactive and asking pertinent questions is the best way to ensure that your home is accessible and welcoming to your guest in a wheelchair. By following the tips above, you can make your home a place where everyone can enjoy themselves.