Inclusive living for younger people with disabilities

// interiors

English Housing Survey statistics have shown that the largest percentage of families with disabled children live in social housing. In fact, 5.6% of housing association properties accommodate a disabled child or children, compared with only 2.1% in the privately-owned housing sector. Here Stuart Reynolds, Head of Product and Marketing at AKW shows how housing associations can build versatility into both the bathroom and kitchen for these children.

Increasing numbers of younger people with disabilities
In the UK, there are a total of 800,000 disabled children under the age of 16 (this equates to one child in 20)  and 99.1% of disabled children live at home and are supported by their families . More disabled children are surviving infancy and children under 16 are the fastest growing bracket of disabled people. As well as families with disabled children making up 5% of all households in the social sector, a quarter of these families will have more than one disabled child.

Building inclusive living into housing stock
The challenge for families dealing with a child, or children, with disabilities is that as they grow and develop, their needs change and lifting them into the bath might not be feasible anymore. For social landlords looking to build inclusivity into their housing stock, the bathroom is a key area to focus on. Here are the key ways to bring inclusivity into housing stock, cost-effectively.

Cost-effective wet rooms - Traditional shower cubicles are not an option for wheelchair users and present a high risk of trip accidents because of the raised threshold for less mobile young residents. A safer alternative is a level-access wet room that users can wheel in and out of with ease. These also make the best use of the space available in even the smallest of bathrooms, and give the room a contemporary and stylish appearance. As well as being easy to install, with the use of high quality wet room formers, this solution can be designed to withstand heavy-duty use and high loads, so that wheelchairs can safely be used in them without fear of damage.

To maximise cost-efficiencies and minimise installation times, AKW offers a system that features a built in wet room former and adapter to make it possible to rapidly – usually in less than half a day – and simply transform a bathroom with a conventional bathtub to a wet room. This concept of a flexible room means the bath can be removed or put back in place whenever needed, according to the requirements of each tenant, whether they be young or old, that enters the home.

Inclusive planning – The aim is to make manoeuvring around the bathroom straightforward and safe for those in wheelchairs, or who use mobility aids. Thought needs to be given to the placement of toilets, soil pipes and the basin and in some instances this might mean the use of compact or wall-mounted basins or raised height toilets. AKW has a range of solutions on offer to meet a variety of installations needs.

Using smart tech - AKW’s range of smart showers includes the thermostatically controlled iTherm and the Bluetooth enabled care shower. This can be controlled via tactile buttons on the shower unit, or using a wireless remote control or smartphone app.  Settings can be personalised and saved and alarms programmed to turn the shower on at specific times. A delayed mode has also been incorporated to enable parents to transfer disabled children out of the shower before it can be reactivated. 

Bathrooms that help promote independence and improve safety for disabled children and their families needn’t cost the earth. For those looking for ideas on how to make their housing stock more inclusive, in a cost-effective way, AKW has a team of experts on hand to help with a range of product and design solutions.

For more information on how to build flexibility into your housing stock,

For more information, please contact AKW on 01905 823 298,
Email: or visit

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