How Sliding Door Systems Can Improve Accessibility and Assist in Gaining Lifetime Homes Standards
by Stephanie Lee
Recent research by Habinteg Housing Association has revealed that a mere 3 percent of councils in England, outside of London, have put plans in place to deliver and measure the amount of homes being built to the accessible Lifetime Homes standard. That means a staggering 97 percent of local councils are failing their residents with a lack of forward planning on how to tackle the accessibility problem in social housing.
Statistics also show that one in five disabled people believe that their accommodation is not suitable as their home requires adaptation. Research by national charity Aspire has determined that fewer wheelchair accessible homes were built in 2013 than in 2005, with 24,000 wheelchair users in England waiting for appropriate social or affordable housing. Currently only 7 percent of existing social homes provide the four minimum access features that allow a disabled person to comfortably visit, stay the night or live on a longer term basis.
In order to address the shortage of accessible social homes, LAs must ensure all new social housing is built to minimum standards equivalent to Lifetime Homes or Building Regulations Part M (4) Category 2, as standard, to promote mobility and enhance user well-being. The Lifetime Homes standard considers the spatial needs in a property in order to provide both basic and essential accessibility facilities, either from the outset or through the ability to create simple, cost effective adaptations. This means that ordinary homes are designed to cover aspects such as inclusivity, accessibility, adaptability, sustainability and value. Homes also take into account the mobility needs of a wide range of people and include simple, yet extremely effective features, such as level access, wider doorways and most crucially, the potential for cost-effective adaptations.
When designing the openings within an accessible home, consideration must be given to the doors used and their suitability for all users. The swinging function of a traditional door can be obtrusive, cumbersome and take up unnecessary space when in operation. Sliding doors on the other hand provide the benefit of an entirely clear floor space, allowing for easier mobility between rooms.
Well-designed sliding door hardware systems can improve accessibility for a wide variety of individuals such as parents pushing buggies, carrying children or shopping; older people, perhaps beginning to use mobility aids; members of a household perhaps temporarily disabled through illness or an accident; and members of the household or visitors with permanent disabilities.
Sliding door hardware from a manufacturer such as P C Henderson ensures optimum use of a home’s floor space whether that be for use as a door, room divider or wardrobe. Used as a room divider, they can effortlessly split spaces in an open plan design to create functional living areas. In smaller rooms such as en-suites, toilets and bathrooms, pocket doors can be utilised to eliminate the area taken up by a swing door as they glide neatly into the wall cavity. The hardware is also perfect for storage areas such as walk-in wardrobes, utility rooms and pantries.
For even easier operation, hardware systems can offer additional features such as automation, to enable the sliding doors to open at the push of a button or by activating a motion sensor. Such a system must be versatile to cover various aperture sizes, made with high quality components and tested for everyday use. They should also be able to carry different door materials such as wood, metal or glass, and carry various panel weights to meet distinct design and functional requirements.
Choosing a manufacturer that can provide British engineered systems that are cost efficient and combine high performance with aesthetic appeal is key. An experienced UK based company with the design expertise to create bespoke solutions is favourable to social housing developers and specifiers looking to meet the requirements of accessible homes as they can expect unrivalled service and support.
For more information please contact the P C Henderson sales team here.
 LocalGov: http://www.localgov.co.uk/Councils-failing-to-plan-for-accessible-housing-demand/41454
 Lifetime Homes: http://www.lifetimehomes.org.uk/pages/lifetime-homes-and-disabled-people.html
 Aspire: https://www.aspire.org.uk/News/aspires-research-finds-massive-shortfall-in-accessible-housing-in-the-uk
 Habinteg: http://www.habinteg.org.uk/news/new-research-report-from-habinteg-and-papworth-trust-the-hidden-housing-market--1042
 Lifetime Homes: http://www.lifetimehomes.org.uk/pages/costs.html