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wheelchair accessible doors

(6 Posts)
doublechoc Fri 01-Jul-11 11:08:11

Looking for some help in sourcing an external door that is easily opened by a wheelchair user.

We are in the process of building a wheelchair-friendly extension for my mum, who has MS and is quite frail. It is virtually impossible for her to open regular doors (that swing in and out, if that makes sense) so she is going to have sliding doors internally. To get outside we thought sliding patio doors would be a solution, but we've been advised that they would be too heavy for her, and that residential automatic doors are wildly expensive.

Does anybody have ideas please? Really want to help her get some independence back.

many thanks

OhWesternWind Fri 01-Jul-11 12:57:03

Hi there Doublechoc. Sorry to hear about your mum. My dad had MS so I do understand what it's like.

I work in construction and to be honest the best solution would be an automatic door. I am not sure how expensive it would be for a domestic-type door but it might be worth looking into. Again, with regard to the sliding door, different types will be easier or more difficult to open than others and it will also depend on the width/height of the door, frame materials, whether it's double or single glazed etc. If you contact a reputable local door/glazing company they will be able to advise and may be able to take you to see some examples of their work. However, with MS as you know, what is possible today may not be possible tomorrow so to future-proof the extension I would really think about making the investment in automatic doors. You can get either the PIR type or the push button type and again the former may be worth the investment.

Hope this helps.

doublechoc Fri 01-Jul-11 13:34:57

Thanks so much for your very useful reply OhWesternWind, and for your empathy - sorry about your dad too. Like you say, MS is hard to plan for.

Really good idea about going to check out sliding doors - will take my mum to check how she gets on with them. I've seen some adverts from USA for attachments you can wire in to regular doors to make them automatic doors, but am not having much luck finding a source in the UK. By PIR type do you mean the ones with the keypad? Sorry for asking more questions!

OhWesternWind Thu 07-Jul-11 12:53:21

Hi there - if you try a local architectural ironmongery company they might be able to help. If you google "Domestic automatic doors" or similar you should get quite a few sites which might be useful.

The PIR ones are movement detector ones which have an infra-red beam and when you drive your wheelchair through the beam and break it, it triggers the door to open. More expensive but ultimately might be worth it. There are other ones where you press a switch either on the wall or on a hand-held or wheelchair-mounted unit, so quite a few options. Hope there is something suitable for your mum.

Pendeen Thu 07-Jul-11 15:49:28

If you are building an extension you will have had to apply for building regulation approval. If you are interested - the relevant information is here:
Part M

For your situation a 'power assist' door closer may be an option. This is a device that fits to a normal external door, allowing it operate as as with any normal door closer, but at the push of a button (or with a remote key fob) would open electrically.

doublechoc Thu 07-Jul-11 19:01:03

Thanks again for your very useful help OhWesternWind and thanks too Pendeen, I really appreciate it.

After your previous advice I have now done a bit more detailed/focussed google digging and have found some automatic door openers (power assist) ranging from £500 to £1500 (from if anyone is interested). They can work automatically with a key fob, as you said, or you can use the door manually, and seem to be easy to fit.

The infra-red option sounds great, but would slightly worry about the kids breaking it by playing going-in-and-out-the-magic-door!

Am also trying to get to the bottom of VAT exemption for building work solely to be used by people with disabilities - I believe we have to give the builders a form and then they don't pay VAT at source...meeting up with them tomorrow so will report back! (The building regs info I will read later with a glass of wine smile )

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