Written by: Jason Biddle, The Helping Home
Part one of this three-part series outlined some modifications that help with preparing food in the kitchen. If you haven’t read part one yet, be sure to click here and check it out.
In this second part, we explore solutions that help wheelchair users with cooking tasks in the kitchen.
Wall Oven and Separate Stovetop
A one-piece range that features an oven with a cooktop is a very common setup in kitchens. For some wheelchair users, the cooktop can be challenging because the rear heating elements are out of reach. Also, the oven can sometimes prove difficult to use because of the bending and reaching involved.
The best way to address these issues is by replacing the one-piece range with a wall oven and installing a roll-under stovetop in the opening where the one-piece range once occupied. This can be quite the endeavor, but the final result can make the renovation more than worth the effort. A little ingenuity can help reduce the expense.
Adding a wall oven to an existing kitchen will likely entail eating up countertop space, so try to find a section of the kitchen countertop that can be removed and salvaged. A good countertop installer should be able to keep the countertop intact, even if it’s granite. This salvaged countertop can then be used to fill in the opening where the stand-alone cooktop goes. Although a seam will run down both sides of the cooktop where the countertop was added, it is often much more economical than replacing all the kitchen countertops. You’ll need a cabinet maker to build the new base below the cooktop and to modify the cabinetry for the wall oven.
When selecting the appliances, look for a wall oven with a side-swing door that gives better access and a cooktop with front-mounted controls that are easier to reach.
Many kitchens have over-the-range microwaves, putting access just out of reach for wheelchair users. If you have countertop space to spare, a small countertop microwave is a great solution. Those who are willing to undergo a bit more renovation can modify a base cabinet to allow for a built-in, under-counter microwave. And for a full face-lift, replace the over-the-range microwave with a range hood.
Outlets within Reach
Electrical plugs positioned at the back of the counter along the backsplash may be out of reach, making it difficult to bring power to slow cookers, electric skillets, griddles, and other small cooking appliances.
A great way to solve this problem is by adding new outlets in the face of base cabinets. If that’s too intrusive, then an alternative solution is to wire into an existing backsplash outlet and place a plugmold into an accessible part of the wall. Or a power strip plugged directly into a backsplash that reaches the edge of the countertop is a possibility, too.
Check out this guide to learn about additional assistive technology solutions that help with cooking. Also, be sure to read the third article coming soon in this series for recommendations that help with washing dishes.
If you need help with financing and are enrolled in or qualify for Medicaid, then click here to learn if your state’s Medicaid program covers the cost of medically necessary home modifications.
For military service members, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers three different types of grants for medically necessary home modifications. Learn more about the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant here. And you can learn more about the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant here.
Also, there are other state-specific programs that provide financial assistance for home modifications, so it is worth taking the time to research what else is available.
Finally, Rebuilding Together is a national non-profit that helps retrofit homes to make them more accessible and user-friendly. You can check to see if there is a local affiliate by visiting the Rebuilding Together website
Do you know of other kitchen modifications for cooking? Or maybe you’ve found a creative way to make your kitchen work for you? Let us know in the comments below!