How do I make my home safe for my epileptic son?
This week’s question is from Ivonne, a Light Home reader who wants to ensure her home is renovated to be safe for her epileptic son.
Ivonne’s son is 20 years old and suffers with epileptic seizures on a daily basis. With its hard, slippy surfaces and confined space, the family’s bathroom in particular is a potentially dangerous room if he suffers a seizure.“The present bathroom is a very dangerous place for him,” Ivonne told Light Home. “We need to renovate it and make it bigger to make it safe. Where can we get a good design or advice for this?”
Designing a bathroom for anyone with specific needs, such as epilepsy, can be a challenge – but there is a wide array of architectural solutions available. All kinds of things can be done to make the bathroom safer, from installing grab bars and non-slip strips to putting down carpet and padded covers to provide cushioning against falls.
List the safe design issuesThe best place to start is to make a list of the issues that need tackling and then take those to an architect.
“Is it the edges, the materials, the free space, is it about the impact if he falls?” asks Carolyn McFarland of Austin McFarland Architects.
“Take these issues to a designer or an architect – they should have knowledge on products and materials available for use in the bathroom.”
Find the right architectSearch the Australian Institute of Architects’ website for an architect. They have an online service called ‘Find an Architect’ where you can search within your area and the specialities you’re looking for.
“It is important to find a designer who you are comfortable with and who understands your needs,” says McFarland.
“Get a list of designers, call them and discuss your ideas and constraints, and find the person you feel most confident with.”
Safe design tips
Epilepsy charities, such as Epilepsy Action Australia, offer advice on how to make your bathroom safer for someone who suffers epileptic fits. Their tips include:
More info on designing for special need