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Mobility Aids

Go with the Flow …busting 6 myths about stairlifts

May 24, 2016
Buildmumahouse stairlist stannah stairlift jola piesakowska

There is a load of old twaddle about stairlifts. There are more jokes about stairlifts than any other mobility aid. People love ’em or hate ’em and some people can’t use their upstairs without ’em.

Stairlifts can mean that people can stay living in their home and don’t have to move so that they can reach their bedrooms easily. I installed a stairlift in my mum’s house and built a wider staircase to give it a wide berth, but if you are adapting a home and your staircase is narrow, or has a turn or two in it, there is a stairlift that solves that problem. The Flow 2. I checked it out at the Naidex show so, let’s bust some myths about stairlifts

Myth 1 My walls aren’t strong enough to support a stairlift.

You know what, the trackflow2 stairlift detail that a stairlift rides on is attached to the stairs, the design is safer this way because all the weight is sent downwards. Plus, the brackets that hold the rail aren’t attached to every step and that’s why installation can be done in a few hours.

 

Myth 2 If I leave something on the stairs the stairlift will crash into it and cause an accident.

Stairlifts move slowly and smoothly and modern sensors work to stop the chair well before you get too close to that handbag that someone left half-way up the stairs… And they won’t run your cat over either.

Myth 3 My stairs are too narrow I’ll hit my knees …and my stairs are too steep.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 20.37.42

Have a look at the Flow 2 stairlift, it has a swivelling and levelling motion that means that when the seat rides up or down at an angle it rotates and stays level: making steep and narrow stairs a doddle.

 

 

 

 

Myth 4  My legs are too long and my feet will drag on the stairs, my wife’s a lot short than me.

Sorry, the stairlift chairs are easily and fully adjustable.

Myth 5 It’s easy to be thrown off it

All stairlifts comScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 20.36.52e with seat belts and the Flow 2  has an extra feature – the armrests are curved so that they wrap around you, you’re are almost cradled in the arms of your chair.

 

Myth 6 The chairs are ugly.

I think the rail on the Flow2 is very nicely designed but when it comes to the seat..Yup I agree. Go for the neutral colour upholstery and it won’t offend.

 

If you aren’t sure about stairlifts and would like some more information about them, drop me an email buildmumahouse@gmail.com. Let’s talk.

 

 

How to make cooking easier and more enjoyable at any age – 5 design features that Howdens Inclusive kitchens deliver on

May 18, 2016

Howdens, the best kept secret in kitchens. If you’re not a builder with an account with them this is how it will stay. You won’t find out that this is a company with a fantastic attitude to delivering well thought out kitchen options across the full range of their designs and to suit your budget.

If your builder doesn’t have an account with them, you won’t find out that when they design a kitchen for you its well designed, delivered on time and if there are any problems they get sorted out straight away. You won’t know that when you, the client, go into Howdens they are really friendly and sort out your question quickly.

So… I’m unlocking the Big Secret for you – they make Inclusive kitchens. Really good ones. In all colours, finishes and prices. I couldn’t get my hands on these until I went to Naidex the UK’s largest disability, rehabilitation and homecare event … and these are the top 5 secrets that I’m sharing with you.

1. Accessible Wall Cupboards

This is my favourite secret, wall cupboards with shelves that come down to you. I took these pictures at Naidex, you can see that if you are in a wheelchair this makes your stuff easy to reach- but this is just as important for anyone who is elderly and can’t reach up to wall cupboards or in fact anyone who finds a step stool a bit precarious.

Standard pull-down shelf 2 wire base baskets with a smooth, adjustable operating piston mechanism. Compatible with 600mm wall cabinets.

Standard pull-down shelf 2 wire base baskets with a smooth, adjustable operating piston mechanism. Compatible with 600mm wall cabinets.

2. Adjustable base unit height.

There are two plinth heights with the Inclusive option, depending, on your needs you can have all of your kitchen lower or higher for easy access.

You can sit with your feet under the hob and you can option to make this adjustable.

You can sit at the hob and cook with ease.

 

The really fantastic features in the base units, though, is the sink and hob. With both of these you can sit down either on a stool or in a wheelchair, put your knees under the unit and get stuck in with the cooking (or peeling the spuds over the sink). Both have an option to be raised or lowered with the flick of a switch- which is good if your family has a range of needs and ages.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Easy to use appliances.

Howdens supply their own appliances range called Lamona, as well as AEG, Neff and Bosch. It’s the easy to reach ovens that really understand what people need. The side opening Lamona oven is ideal for easy access for anyone in a wheelchair, support or elderly. Read my review of electric ovens for more information. Match this oven with the Inclusive tower unit and you can install it at a lower height than usual, and add a telescopic shelf beneath the oven. This shelf is so useful for that hot or heavy dish coming out of the oven – ideal for safe use. Just wish the oven came without a clock. How many carers get the call to go over to reset the oven clock?

And the cooking extractor with a remote control. Simply Brilliant.

4. Door Handles

The kitchens on display at Naidex had integrated door handles. This really isn’t much good for anyone elderly, with a weakend grip or restricted movement in their hands. A ‘D’ handle is ideal, a comfortable shaped door handle for opening drawers and cupboards. Howdens do a good range of handles and the good thing is that the Integrated features can be added to any kitchen in their ranges. But do shop around – I found some lovely well designed, easy to use, well priced ones in Ikea.

5. Good range of bright worktops.

Elderly people or anyone with a poor eyesight will benefit from the definition that a light and bright kitchen worktop will give. I was delighted to see that Howdens have a lot of choice across all the price points and again they seem to have lots in stock with short delivery lead times.

So.. that’s the five big Howden secrets that will help you plan a kitchen for yourself or for an elderly parent, or for someone who wants to remain independent and continue to enjoy cooking and entertaining. You will also find a good list of tips and hints on the Which? website but have a look at my Pinterest boards for more inspiration for a kitchen that addresses mobility issues and is on trend.

 

 

 

 

 

Why move house when you can adapt your space? 5 reasons to go prebuilt.

May 3, 2016

Why move when you can adapt? Young families are opening up their attics or digging out basements so that they can have more space without moving home. Now ‘older’ families with reduced mobility issues are looking at creating more downstairs ground level space so that they can stay in the same home where the kids grew up and the grandchildren like to visit.

I’ve been looking at home living modules as a solution to create single level living and wheelchair accessible home extensions. These are house extensions designed to your specifications and choice of décor, but with a huge difference – they are built, wired, decorated, plumbed and tested off site.  C3S is one such company, based in West Yorkshire, they build the entire extension as a module in their factory, using a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals. These guys won’t leave you with an extension that isn’t quite finished or a wetroom that leaks.

5 reasons to consider a prebuilt extension:

 

1. Disruption to your life is minimal:

the foundations are dug in your garden and then the entire unit is delivered by lorry and craned into position. In a matter of days it’s ready for use, fully connected and commissioned.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 11.57.37

Watch the delivery of this extension on You Tube!

 

2. Customise it.

A Mira shower is included in the standard specification but you can choose exactly what fittings you prefer. Have fun and get exactly what you want and need. Whether you go for the modern clean lines of the HEWI bathroom range,

HEWI basin with integrated grab rails and lots of surface area surrounding it

or a touch of luxury with easy to use taps.

So many beautiful lever taps to choose from @cphartbathrooms #design #agespanning #house spoilt for choice @buildmumahouse

So many beautiful lever taps to choose from @cphartbathrooms

 

From the positioning of electrical sockets, to carpets and colour schemes, the choice is yours. If like me you’re a bit nervous about using colour in your new bedroom, Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux suggests downloading the free Dulux Visualiser App on to your smartphone or tablet to get inspired. With this super easy app, take a photo of one of your favourite things and sample the colour using your phone or tablet’s camera. The app uses virtual reality to show you how that colour would look on your walls. Click on this link, try the app – it’s a lot of fun!

3. They’ve done it before.

The C3S team includes a project manager to oversee the entire job, the team can draw up the plans, the quote and even sort out the planning permissions. Their units are Local Authority Building Control England and Wales (LABC) approved and if you go the website they have details and assessments

Our solution is fully compliant with current building regulations and is certified under the Local Authority Building control (LABC) approval scheme
Mark Willis – Health, Safety, Environment & Quality, C3S.

4. It won’t break the bank

If you have wondered how much these basement extensions are costing your neighbours, the price, according to Back to Basement   is £2,200-£3,000 per sq m if new basement has to be dug out Source: Real Homes

An en-suite bedroom  modular unit from C3S includes the standard fixtures and fittings: walk in shower, grab rails, tiling painting, Altro flooring, starts at £23,000. In my calculations that’s about £1,160 per square metre including module construction, fit out, electrics and plumbing but not including groundworks, delivery or installation.

Altro flooring

Altro Flooring can be fitted to curve up the walls -ideal in a wetroom

Running costs of these prebuilt units are affordable too, fully insulated and energy efficient C3S fit UPVC A rated doors and windows.

5. No Need to Move

AND FINALLY, The Best Reason: You stay in your own home with your friends, neighbours, your life and memories around you …. with a new found freedom and comfort.

For more bathroom and bedroom decoration inspiration read my blog posts about HEWI bathrooms and Marianne Shillingford’s Dulux Colour space-creating tips and colour trends.

Then pop over Buildmumahouse PInterest to look at some fantastic bathroom ideas that address mobility issues and are on trend.

 

 

 

 

Is Age a Dirty Word in the Bathroom? A coffee and chat with the man from HEWI.

April 19, 2016

In Waterloo, behind a busy building site, under the arches, is an Aladdin’s cave: CP Hart’s magical showroom. CP Hart is the purveyor of the most fantastic, cutting edge, elegant, high end, exclusive bathrooms. Each featured bathroom is styled and lit to exquisite perfection, you can’t help but take delight in the style, the quality and the design details. It’s the stuff of dreams, not just aspiration. CP Hart have dedicated their showrooms to allow you to delight in design… there’s even a luxurious meeting area for designers, clients and architects to meet and spin their multimillion pound dreams.

Then come the two dirty words:    AGE.     DISABLED.

Thoughts of blue and white plastic bring my luxury bathroom dreams back down to earth with a bump.

Until… I walked past the freestanding baths, glistening in the spotlights- one wrapped in copper, one in pony skin …and the myriad of heavily chromed bath taps. I’ve turned the corner and walked into a modern bathroom set up: restrained, clean lines, beautiful surfaces, quality chrome and clever design details. HEWI. Bathrooms fit for the disabled.

I’ve been intrigued by HEWI ever since I spotted them a couple of years ago at CP Hart. Who on earth is this bathroom manufacturer that no-one has heard of but features in all the best hotels and retirement homes in the world?

Last week at CP Hart’s showrooms, I met with Stephen Maley HEWI’s UK Sales Director  to find out  bit more about the thinking behind the brand. Stephen is a qualified occupational therapist who used to work with prosthetics and their design and he is typical of the HEWI ethos.

The HEWI Ethos

They are a family firm who really want to understand what people need and what they want. A German family firm established by Henry Wilke in 1900s and today employ 600 people worldwide. What started in 1969 as a company making architect designed and loved nylon coated steel core lever handles, in bright colours- green, blue, red has become a company offering accessibility bathrooms for the trade, hotels, care villages and retirement apartments. HEWI products are engineered to last, using high grade materials and finishes combined with thoughtful and considerd design developed with input from occupational therapists, users and designers.

Manufacturing

The colourful nylon door handles that were the height of fashion in the 1980s had a lot more to them than I realised. High quality materials and vibrant dyes meant that these funky items were often seen in public buildings and high traffic areas and standing up to the use.

door handles

What I didn’t realise is that these were clever designs – the door handles were easy to use for weakened grip, the smooth warm finish perfect for rheumatoid arthritis affected hands and when added to a white door had 30 point light reflective values. They could be seen in low light and environments such as in smoke filled rooms.

 

Design …‘my disabled dream bathroom’

He lost his leg but not his style, I found this You Tube video of Grenadier Guard Scott

‘its exactly what I need everything seems to be so much easier’

To design for disability you have to understand the physical  as well as the emotional needs.

In this video Ed Warner Motion Founder sums up the use of good design

if you get the environment right for people you can improve both their cognitive and their physical health

Education

Most of the customers are architects and specifiers. These are usually youthful, energetic, enthusiastic design professionals. Quite far away from a young person facing life with an amputated limb, a stroke victim facing disability, a grandparent with reducing mobility. HEWI take it upon themselves to take part in disability awareness training for retailers, RIBA CPD core learning programmes with groups of architects or specifiers. I was fascinated to hear that HEWI have an ageing suit. At their talks one of the group is invited to step into the world of increased body weight and limited mobility and weekend grip, macular degeneration glasses or even pebbles in your shoes so that you get the idea that standing even for a short time is excruciating for some people.

Future Proof

This bit’s easy: brick walls or marine ply affixed to 2 x 2 frame, just imagine, one day you may want to bolt everything to the wall. There is no point having a wet room when you can’t hold on to anything.

Disabled and Reduced Mobility

My favourite item is the washbasin.

sink

 

Sleek and fun… the flannel rack doubles up as a grab and hand rails – sneaky! Loads of flat space around the sink for all your bits and pieces and plenty of space underneath for your knees when you sit down or pull in to the sink in your wheelchair

The shower has so many clever features too a strong grab bar disguised as a shower rail. A tip up shower seat that hooks on a rail an dcomes as a small hard seat or a padded one suitable for anyone with inflamed joints or nerves.

The HEWI shower with and without the shower seat

The HEWI shower with and without the shower seat

The grab rails are shaped so that you can comfortably pull yourself forward as well as pushing up

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I Not only are the grab rails built with a steel core but the third one down looks like chrome but has a nylon layer so that its always warm to touch- a real boon for arthritis sufferers whose hands are sensitised to the cold.

Colour and Fun

There’s a rhyme that its used by therapists that blue is for loo and a theory that blue is the last colour in the spectrum that people can distinguish. Is that why so many nasty disabled bathroom accessories are white and blue? If its contrast that we’re looking for, HEWI explore black and you can see that in the photo above,  its used with pleasing forms and looks really stylish, modern and sleek.

Colour is also used for zoning in public spaces and this year HEWI have introduced 16 co – ordinating colours in the nylon coated range, about time that accessibility products can be modern and fun.

orange colour conceept

Dementia

Red is action. Sterling University DNRC. the HEWI dementia range uses colour therapy and colour triggers for people with dementia. Using red for action they circle the bowl of the wash basin.

dementia bathroom

The dementia bathroom range has been designed to remind people of why they are there- action.

There’s an interview with architect Dr.Birgit Dietz who worked with HEWI researching this range and the use of red.

On the one hand this facilitates the dementia sufferer’s perception of the washbasin within the room and on other the other hand it helps them to understand how to use it. This promotes functional independence in the bathroom. The markings are red. Qualitative studies show that the colour read is most easily perceived by dementia sufferers. Red is also the most easily registered colour for people with age-related impaired vision or inoperable eye diseases, for example, macular degeneration. The dementia washbasin is therefore also suitable for people whose vision decreases with age.

Add to this a choice of non-reflective surfaces. As you lose perspective, the reflection of your outstretched hand can be confusing and make it harder to grab a rail or reach for the handle to flush the loo.

HEWI sales advisors are trained to explain to specifiers to think about the end users. Mirrors – open the door to the bathroom basin and get spooked by your own reflection in  the mirror. Anyone who gets up to use the bathroom in the night can image the fright that you could get from that.

 

Cross Generation- now you see it now you don’t

Designed to be rock solid when in place but with the use of superbly engineered spring loaded clips the grab bars are designed to be removed when not needed. This is a feature that works brilliantly in retirement apartments where the architect designs a future proofing bathroom but would work really well in a domestic situation – if you have anyone elderly or disabled staying over regularly. Remove the grab rail and chrome plates cover the mechanism leaving everything looking sleek modern and rail free.

PUTTING THE HANDLE ON

 

 

 

Plan Ahead

Don’t buy in haste. If you rush into buying accessibility products for the bathroom it takes time to get it right and its worth making a bathroom that you can enjoy because it serves your needs and its the sanctuary you want it to be. Have a look at my wet room suggestions as well, click this link and don’t forget to think about colour schemes as suggested by my post with Marianne Shillingford here.

 

Is this the most luxurious sleep ever?

April 5, 2016

Getting a good night’s sleep is pretty high up on my list of ‘must haves’, having a luxurious night’s sleep is a dream.

The usual gripes are that the bed is too soft, too hard to lumpy but there are lots of other factors, your other half is too hot, too cold, gets up at night, needs a higher/lower bed than you, tosses and turns until the early hours…. Along with the downsizing and age proof living decisions comes the thorny subject of the new bed – couples with different needs considering ‘investing’ in single beds…

I’ve taken a look at beds that can be for singles or doubles that offer a luxurious night’s rest and solve a lot of the demands that all of us have at night time – or at other times; taking a nap or watching tv or reading a good book. Beds that can be raised with no effort to lift and support your legs, to lift your head and shoulders, to sit you up, beds that can be raised up so that getting out of bed is easier, bed frames that has a light that gently shines to help your way at night. All without disturbing your other half. Or as a single bed that genuinely suits you.

I’m talking well sprung mattress plus a mechanised bed frame, and it doesn’t get classier than Treca Interiors. I had a look at their beds and I was  delighted that so many physical (and emotional needs) were addressed and with a serious eye on high quality finish, smooth mechanisms, beautiful design and luxury finishes.

Treca Interiors Platinum Supercad bed base

 

50 years ago,Treca Interiors Paris developed their first articulated bed base called the CAD: Couché, Assis, Détendu : sleep, sit, relax. Now their range includes the Supercad with a travelling base that lifts your head and also slides back to close the gap between the headboard, and also the Trecaflex M5 that has suspension slats and pocket springs for added comfort and support beneath the mattress.

The Supercad is the top of the Treca Interiors range, it has four silent motors that smoothly move five independent sleeping surfaces. Everything is made for comfort and reliability: a “travelling” system slides the the frame and enables you to remain near to the headboard when your head and upper body are raised in the reclining position.

All of this is controlled by a radio remote control rather than a control attached to the bed.  Using the control you can adjust the bed frame so that you can find your ideal position and if you get muddled up with all that, don’t worry your favourite three can be memorised in the control. I love that you could also programme it to control other electrical appliances such as your tv and even your bedroom lights – fewer remote controls on your bedside table to rummage through.

Motorised Bed Lift

Motorised Bed Lift

The Supercad has three useful extras that are also remote controlled. Firstly, there is a heating pad that can be placed on the mattress at your legs. As with everything that they do Treca produce these using high tech heating elements and finish it in luxurious fabrics.

Secondly, there are motorised bed legs that can be added to the adjustable bed frame and allow either mattress to be lifted and lowered using the remote control. This is a real help in the mornings to get out of bed, or lift the bed up to make getting into bed easier for you. I like this feature because it means that once you are in bed, your half can be lowered to match your other half’s.

And thirdly, there is the ingenious ‘why I didn’t I think of that’ feature: soft downlights on the edge of the bed that shine down to the floor, lighting up your path in the night as you walk past the bed – no need to put the bedroom lights on and you won’t disturb your partner’s night.

All of this plush upholstery and high quality engineering is topped off with a range of specialist mattresses designed to use with the Supercad bed and made from the finest materials, put together with traditional craftsmanship. Silk, Horsehair, Alpaca….

material beds

Put together by hand….

making the mattress

cross section

 

and just when you thought it couldn’t get any more luxurious, embroidered details and all finished with a customised topper…

TIP_OE_Handle_Paris-Istanbul

 

Treca Supercad combine high quality engineering and luxury hand crafted mattresses to provide supreme comfort. Their styling, attention to detail and flexibility make you realise that these beds are not only for the elderly or the infirm but are genuinely luxury age proof items for any age. Adjustable beds are ideal for resting, relaxing and sleeping well and for couples, genuinely accommodates both sets of needs. If you are planning to downsize, this could be your new bedroom splurge! Have a look at the video:

 

Built Mum a House 1 year on: 6 great things that make me go mmm!

March 28, 2016

If you’re looking for some tried and tested tips and about to embark on building your ‘forever’ home… or if you’re an empty nester renovating a house or apartment to make it future proof …or looking to build your mum a house read on…

It’s 1 year since my mum moved into her house, and looking back on the last 12 months here’s my top 6 features that she loves about it. It’s funny,  some of the things that I spent hours worrying over have worked a treat, but no-one notices them, and there are some features that have worked out to be brilliant and we keep chatting about them.

First, let me get off my chest the one thing that drives me nuts ( luckily no-one else minds about it) It’s the kitchen layout. Downstairs is open plan living and kitchen area. When the kitchen was designed I spent ages on the paper plans, in the shell of the half built house measuring up and at B&Q tweaking the layout. I tried to make sure that there was enough space for everything..until the kitchen fitter arrived. Stubborn and knowing better than me, he kept moving the 1000mm corner unit from where it was on the plan. On day 1 of the job I told him a couple of times to move it to its planned position, and again in the morning of day 2, after I had left he moved it back to where he wanted it to go. He finished the job so that the run of units projected 600mm into the living area. That’s a fair bit in a tiny house.

This was a part of the build when we were having major problems with the construction company and the build was way-over schedule. I should have stood over him ( there’s a lot of should have here ) and if I were to give anyone any advice its this: When they’re fitting in the kitchen units make sure you watch like a hawk until all the units are secured. And be bossy. No, be bloody minded to make sure you get the layout that has been designed.

The electrician was really cheesed off when he returned to do part two of the fit because the oven didn’t line up with the cabling but it was done and I had given in. grrr. Anyhow,

 let’s go to the things that we all LOVE…

1. The Stairs

I never thought I would say I would be proud of the stairs but I am!. When the house was being designed I realigned the staircase on the architect’s plan 180 degrees so that access to upstairs is from the living room and not the front door. This has proved to be more convenient when you are in the living room most of the day but more importantly I had them redrawn so that they are wider than an average staircase. A wide staircase does give a rather grand feeling of space and does make you feel less wobbly when you walk up them. But if you don’t use the  stairlift every day (which doesn’t need the extra space) there’s still loads of space on the stairs.

Staircase wide enough for good under stairs storage as well as fitted shelves.

The staircase wide enough for good under-stairs storage, as well as fitted shelves.

2. The Door Lock

I wrote a whole blog post about the from door lock, click here to read it. I stand by every word: the Banham latch and deadbolt are so easy to use and secure. Love them.

 

3. Cloakroom Storage

The cloakroom was another battleground during the build.

Cloakroom Storage

Cloakroom Storage

Just somehow this room had constant problems and ended up as the last room that was worked on. Finally, when the walls had been plastered and for the ‘nth’ time I had pointed out that we needed access to the cistern for maintenance; I collared a builder and he began to cut away at the plasterboard to allow a removable lid to the cistern. There are all sorts of structural things going on behind this wall and that’s how these funny shaped shelves was born…  Top tip: if you have a cavity behind a wall in a bathroom, build some shelves in there.

4. Lighting

In open plan living, establishing lighting zones really is important. For age proof living good lighting is paramount. I installed daylight bulbs in the two areas that need to be well illuminated – the kitchen and around the stairlift and switches. As a carer, my top tip here is to find long lasting bulbs, lets can last years, use a daylight temperature bulb in the kitchen area and in the living and relaxing area warmer light.

Looking back over this year we are all

The living area lights are warmer and the kitchen lights are spots that are usually used in retail lighting- they are direction spotlights and the bulbs have a very wide but bright even light

The living area lights are warmer and the kitchen lights are spots that are usually used in retail lighting- they are directional led spotlights and the bulbs give a very wide but bright even light.

delighted with the daylight bulbs because they have a second benefit: in a small house they give the feeling of brightness and do give you a feeling of cheerfulness. Supposedly, this light temperature helps with the symptoms of SAD and I think that if you are downsizing and worried about feeling gloomy this is a good trick to try. There’s a good explanation of what daylight bulbs are about and an explanation of long lasting bulb options at Lightbulbs Direct website

5.The Corner Shed and the Automatic door

Brilliant. Fits a mobility scooter, the mechanism for the sliding door, it even has enough space for a tumble dryer and garden stuff. But its a corner shed so it fits neatly in the corner of the patio garden leaving enough space for enjoying the patio.

Corner Shed / Garage

Corner Shed / Garage

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Command Centre

This photo sums up 2 successes and one not so brilliant thing:

This is my mum’s command centre! Light switch positioned at a comfortable height and with wide rocker switches, easy to use and looking really good.

Control Centre!

Control Centre!

Central Heating thermostat: full temperature and timing control and manual with easy to use controls. Digital push button controls are the norm but if you have reduced mobility and arthritis in your hands, digital buttons and fiddly dials don’t work. I found this thermostat/timer that controls a Worcester Bosch boiler and despite the plumber’s protestations it was worth digging my heels in and getting this unit on special order. Older people need to keep warm, and they need to adjust the temperature easily.

The large device that you can see is connected to the front door bell; inside the door bell is a very small cctv camera and it’s linked to two video units, one upstairs and one downstairs. It doesn’t unlock the front door but it does allow you to talk to your visitor and tell them to wait. If you have reduced mobility or are elderly this allows you to take your time going down the stairs to answer the door If you are downstairs when someone rings the bell it allows you to check who is calling. This particular model is a bit disappointing as the quality isn’t as good as it should be – the screen on one downstairs has played up and this one has crackly audio reception, but it gives everyone tremendous peace of mind.

If you have any tried and tested tips to share, I would love to hear from you, leave your comments below.Thanks!