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  • Beth Matthews

How I made my rented accommodation accessible

Making a rented space accessible!


I moved to London two years ago as this is where my career started. It quickly became apparent that commuting for over an hour each way was not accessible for me, so we decided to move and make my commute a lot shorter.


However, moving to London has come with its challenges. There are many accessibility barriers to be faced, from a lift in the underground being shut, one-way systems which cause 20-minute walks, under-trained staff, not to mention the barriers when wanting to go out for a glass of pinot.


I won’t tackle all of these issues today, but I would like to talk about how I’ve made my rented one-bedroom flat more accessible. These are things you can try too!


Bathroom:


It’s difficult to find an affordable space that includes a bath, we have a reasonably sized shower which has been helpful in its own right. I’m sure many spoonies can agree that showering daily is the bane of your life so, to make this space more accessible I have added a shower chair that has a backrest. Being able to sit in the shower means I use fewer spoons and it makes washing my hair an easier task. The chair is light, so easy to move around wherever I need it in the bathroom.


Alternatively or even alongside this, you could invest in some stick-on handlebars to help you in and out. These bars can even be used to help you up and down from the toilet, they’re moveable and give you some flexibility to your morning routine.


Kitchen:


Making a kitchen accessible is really quite difficult as it’s all large/heavy appliances. But, I have found that getting a chair for the kitchen makes prepping and cooking meals a lot easier.


I am also looking at accessible cutlery and cooking utensil options to make serving and eating easier for myself - if you have any recommendations, please send them over!


Office:


It might be difficult to call the corner of my bedroom an office, but I’ve done what I can to maximize and utilise this space. I have an ergonomic chair to help with back and hip support as we’re all working from home indefinitely it seemed a worthwhile investment.


Under my desk, you will find a cardboard box that I use as a footstool! Whilst, not the perfect way around, it has helped when I get restless leg syndrome or when I find numbness to be a continuing issue of the day. I hope to upgrade my box to a real footstool soon.


I have also bought a cheap keyboard and mouse set as I find typing and scrolling on my laptop causes strain on my hands and wrists. This has also enabled me to put my laptop on a higher part of the desk so my eye line is straight forward instead of staring down and hurting my neck. After going through the first 6 months of lockdown working from my sofa with my laptop on my lap, this new set-up has enabled me to work longer as I’m much more comfortable, and having a designated working space has made it easier to concentrate.


Something else you will find in my office is plenty of scrap paper and post-it notes, so I can scribble random thoughts and come back to them at a less foggy time.


TikTok has shown me that everyone else became plant-obsessed during lockdown so I thought I’d give it a go, you will find a plant bookcase in my office space too, all placed at shoulder height so I don’t have to strain to take care of them.


Bedroom:


For a lot of spoonies (myself included) our bed can also become our workspace. On flare days I struggle to get up but I might find that I feel mentally clear and want to get some work done. Here’s what I’ve done to make my bed a work-friendly space.


A pregnancy pillow - I struggle to sleep due to pain in my hips and back, but since I bought this pillow it has taken a substantial amount of that pain away as it supports the areas I need the most help with. This is also helpful when working from bed, it means I can lie in almost any position and I have a good chance of finding a comfortable way to be.


A bed-desk! These are usually advertised under the label ‘lazy’ but, it’s not lazy to be in pain and still work however best for you! Don’t be put off by under-educated advertisers. Getting a bed desk doesn’t just have to be for work, you could also use it to help you eat from bed, or place a book on it to read. The opportunities these desks give chronically ill people are fantastic.


The final thing I always keep within close reach is my ‘Fibro Flare Survival Kit’. This is a personal kit of things you need/want during a flare. Of course, you have basic painkillers, balms, heat/cold patches, hot water bottle, etc. But you could also keep some of your favourite snacks, a light book or magazine, a teddy bear that makes you smile. You can put anything in your kit. It’s for you when you’re feeling at your worst.


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It provides comfort to me to know that there are so many products out there that can make a space accessible, but it’s a shame that they’re not advertised as accessibility equipment but as ‘lazy’ products. I also understand that not all of this is affordable but there are routes around and options for more affordable products, it just takes a little bit of time and research.


Ultimately, it’s your home and you deserve to be comfortable in any way you see fit! I hope these tips help you make your space accessibility friendly!


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