It wasn’t until I started on the project to build my mum a house that I began to use the phrase reduced mobility. I couldn’t find the word to explain to architects, builder, plumbers’ merchant, that my mum isn’t a wheelchair user or unable to look after herself, but that some things are more difficult for her and some movements are painful. As a carer I was also having to consider her personal safety, from potential trip hazards to answering the door to callers. And I still wanted her house to be her home…and to look stylish.
Building regulations have a section part M and its brilliant guide when building a house or adapting for wheelchair users, children and parents with children for example nappy changing facilities. The regulations cover physical and sensory disabilities and inclusive design and once you have started building or adapting to part M you will find that in the detail of the planning permission you will start to involve highways officers to look at traffic caused by visits from doctors and emergency vehicles. This really scared me that I had taken too much on I found myself struggling to find guidance for building a house for my mum’s needs, to retain her independence and be more comfortable than when she lived with us, waiting for her house to be built.
Reduced mobility was the term that I used when talking to supplier and the things that I had to think about when designing her house were muscle strength, stamina, manual dexterity, balance, pain, eyesight, hearing and keeping independent, safe and happy. Oh and the budget.