By the year 2051, as many as one in four Canadians will be over the age of 65. Most seniors prefer to remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible. However, most housing is not designed to meet the needs of an aging population or those of people with disabilities.
In Edmonton, a new initiative, Home for Life™, is helping to raise awareness of the importance of accessible home design. The initiative began in 2008, when staff at the Glenrose Hospital realized that many patients could not return home after they were discharged. The patients had developed new or progressive disabilities that their existing homes could not accommodate.
Stakeholders came together to brainstorm ways to support current and future residents with special housing needs. The mayor of Edmonton hosted a roundtable that led to the creation of the Home for Life Action Committee.
Home for Life includes design guidelines intended to allow occupants to live independently in their homes now and into the future. Accessible homes aren’t just for seniors or people with a disability, they are for everyone.
The guidelines focus on seven essential features:
- a zero-step entrance
- an accessible kitchen
- an accessible three-piece bathroom (ideally on the main floor)
- an accessible bedroom or flex room (ideally on the main floor)
- an accessible laundry area (ideally on the main floor)
- doorways that are at least 36 inches (915 mm) wide
- hallways that are at least 42 inches (1,065 mm) wide
The Committee created a simplified version of the guidelines, known as the “builder’s rule”: 0–36–42–60. This means zero steps and thresholds, 36-inch (915-mm) doorways, 42-inch (1,065-mm) hallways and 60-inch-diameter (1,525-mm) turning circles.
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