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Accessibility

Serving disabled people by making their homes accessible is a great way to serve and outreach to others through a home repair ministry.

Practical Love - Serving People with Mobility Needs

If you have read our newsletter for very long, you have likely seen articles about wheelchair ramps, lifts, track systems, walkways, widened doorways, grab bars, loose railings, and other ways to address people’s mobility needs.

Elderly Homeowner Gets Access to Her Home BackWhile the means to the end can vary wildly, the end always remains the same - showing and sharing Christ’s love with people in a highly practical way, helping them gain more use of their homes and independence while improving their quality of life. That is loving our neighbors as ourselves and thanking the Father who demonstrated His love to us in the person of Jesus.

Want to know what a difference mobility can make in someone's life? Here are some real-life examples we have encountered:

  • People in unsafe situations and facing their homes being condemned, which could result in institutionalization, stayed in their home because repairs were made.
  • Others, released from rehab centers, could go home because it was made accessible. They also now had a way out in the face of a fire or other emergency.
  • Bathrooms were adapted to allow people to get in and out on their own, preserving dignity and independence.
  • Home repairs were made that enabled caregivers to physically move their loved ones in, out and within the home and prevented lifting injuries to both the caregiver and receiver.

So what do you say? Do you have a couple handy guys in your church who could make life a little easier for someone with a disability? Sometimes the homeowner can pay for the materials and sometimes they can't. There are other creative ways to pay for projects like this that we have posted on our website for churches that register for the site (it's free!).

Or, can you help people with disabilities by supporting HRM's work to make homes more accessible? Partner with HRM



How Do You... Install Grab Bars?

We get requests from elderly people constantly for grab bars in bathrooms. These can be a challenge because of the strength problem with drywall. Here are some of my experience and thoughts. Please note: this is a fairly complex project and should only be undertaken if you have advanced skills. If you have attempted something like this before and had success, would you let us know what you have learned and share your experiences by leaving a comment below?

When we need to center a bar, for instance directly across from a toilet, reachable from the seat, studs are often not cooperative. There are several choices:

  • Install a decorative board long enough to still look centered but span studs, and attach the grab bar to the board. This could be as simple as a white-wood (Aspen or whatever) 1x6 with square edges & paint, or as nice as oak with routed edges and a stain/polyurethane finish.
  • Get a long grab bar that hits studs and provides a place to grab across from the toilet but not centered. This is a looks and cost question as the longer the bar, the more it costs.
  • Use a hollow wall anchor, toggle, WingIts® (expensive) or toggle straps with screws to attach the mounting plates. Straps can be found cheap, and some have a pull rating of 80#’s each screw, which gives a pull of 320# is you get 4 screws in.

Tile shower stalls are another question. There are a lot of ways to drill tile but the gentlest I’ve found is the diamond grit hole saws. When I started the hole saw:

  1. I held the drill at about 45 degrees, cradled the drill in my left hand close but not touching the wall, ¼” away from the center of the ½” proposed hole mark, spun it up and very softly touched the wall, until it began to bite in,
  2. Then continuing to cut, slowly straightened it up until perpendicular to the wall and over the mark.

We find the studs in the wall above the tile with a stud finder when possible. Otherwise we are going blind and operating from the ½” hole after drilling.

Do you have a trick for fiberglass showers where all you have the shell, air, then drywall, and more air? What do you tighten down on between the fiberglass and the wallboard?


Categories: Accessibility, Tool Tips Tags:

Here Comes The Boom

If you follow the news, you’re probably aware that the nation is aging… Rapidly. The statistics are out there and they’re startling.

According to the Federal Administration on Aging, in just 30 years the nation’s population of those 65 and older will double. Pair that fact with these statistics and a critical need, and an opportunity, starts to emerge –

  • According to a recent AARP housing survey, “83% of older Americans want to stay in their current homes for the rest of their lives,” but other studies show that most homes are not designed to accommodate the needs of people over age 65.
  • Most older people live in homes that are more than 20 years old.
  • Research by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that home modifications and repairs may prevent 30% to 50% of all home accidents among seniors, including falls that take place in these older homes.

And did you know that over 82.7 percent of Americans 70 – 74 own their homes? In fact, all age groups over 65 have a home ownership percentage over 80%!1

Handicap Ramp PictureSo, what’s it all mean? Well, for one thing, older Americans are going to need help maintaining their houses and making them accessible. Their homes, which tend to be older, are going to need repairs more frequently to keep them safe. And accessibility updates will keep them independent and in their homes longer.

We have an opportunity to love and honor our parents, grandparents, mentors and friends by helping them with their home repairs and accessibility needs. And this community outreach could be coming to you! What an opportunity for your church to show and share the love of Christ to those in need in a very practical way!

Not sure where to start? We have materials to help churches of all sizes and stages get a team started, or to grow their existing ministry. If you have any interest in starting a team, please register today.

See the resources for your church to start a team

Home Modification Questions to Ask for Accessibility (from eldercare.gov)

1 – U. S. Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership (CPS/HVS): 2013. (Table 7. Homeownership Rates by Age of Householder: Third Quarter 2012 and 2013)


Accessibility – A Growing Ministry Opportunity All Around Us

A family using their wheelchair rampOne of the things we have learned in our years of ministry is that volunteers love to build wheelchair ramps. Why? Because they get to turn a big pile of lumber into a critically needed structure which can change someone's life, in one day.

There is a huge need for accessible housing for people struggling with disabilities or the aging process. Did you know that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau*, almost 19% of the civilian non-institutionalized population had a disability in 2010? About 12.6% had a severe disability. Over twelve million people (over age six) are disabled to the point of needing personal assistance for everyday activities. In aggregate, disabled people are the largest minority group in the country, coming in at around 56.7 million. 38.3 million have a severe disability.

As the population ages, these numbers should increase. That means more homeowners who no longer having full access to their homes. Imagine if, suddenly, you could no longer easily get out of your house or into the bathroom. Or that you couldn’t easily get out of the house to see friends and family or even do the everyday tasks we so readily take for granted. These scenarios will likely become increasingly prevalent.

 Ramp Project with HomeownerThere are probably many ways to serve the disabled, here are two:

1) Start a home repair team in your church. Our website has a library, free of cost, to help you start or grow a home repair team in your church. What a beautiful picture - the (formerly) spiritually disabled, redeemed by Christ, helping show the physically disabled the love and grace of God!

2) Make a financial donation to support HRM's work to serve people in need, including those with disabilities. Ramps in particular can be quite expensive to build, and often our clients cannot afford the materials.

*Statistics sourced from Census Bureau report "Americans with Disabilities: 2010 Household Economic Studies” - http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf


Categories: Accessibility Tags:

Where Do You Find Projects

There are lots of avenues leading to service for handy tool people. Here are a few:

  • People recently disabled need their homes retrofitted for wheel chairs and accessibility – widened doorways, ramps, removal of barriers, trip hazards, etc. People who are sick, elderly or otherwise unable to make needed changes.
  • Is there a widow in your neighborhood whose yard has gotten away from her? Major yard cleanups are great to get the young people out with the adults.
  • We generally say “for homeowners” but this is not an absolute. Repairing properties for landlords has proven to be a bad practice, but how about damage to a rental home by foster children that the foster parent is responsible to cover? How about foster parents in general, especially those taking in teens!
  • Single mothers struggling to make ends meet often cannot hire a handyman to make repairs, but we happen to know someone . . . How about those heroic people coming back from the middle east with war injuries?
  • The food pantry ministry may need some new permanent shelving but gave the cash reserves to hungry families fighting unemployment. How about your buddies with tool skills? Nearly anyone can build shelves.
  • Always popular are grab bars in bathrooms.
  • Don’t forget to pray with the people you help or even those with projects outside of your abilities. Follow up to show that you care as Christ cares for you.
  • James 1:27 & 28 points us to a properly lived faith life – helping those that cannot help themselves – start with widows and orphans and go from there.

Coming soon – how do we fund material purchases?

Categories: Accessibility, Finding Projects, Service Tags: