Special Needs Resource Directory

  • Home Modifications and Child Safety

    State and community resources are available to assist you identify housing options, shelters and funding resources. In addition, there are suggestions for home modifications and adaptive design which can be essential in allowing individuals with disabilities to live in their own homes, with as much independence as possible. This is sometimes called universal design or inclusive design. It may involve adapting or modifying a home for a child who has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair or crutches, or it might include making room changes for someone who has a hearing or vision disability.

    The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center provides information on housing resources, home modifications and adaptive design for families who have children with special healthcare needs.
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    Home Modifications

    Homes can often be modified and made more accessible with some minor structural changes and can be done without the help of a professional. You can ask your child's physical or occupational therapist for suggestions of adaptive equipment and modifications. There are sometimes inexpensive and creative solutions to improve accessibility. Other challenges require extensive renovations and the assistance of a professional remodeler or architect.

    As you identify needed modifications, remember to think about your child's future needs. As a child grows, will the bathroom be large enough and will the bedroom accommodate a hospital bed? Will you need a dedicated room for therapy? Some popular examples of home modifications include:

    • Constructing ramps
    • Widening doors and changing from knobs to levers
    • Lowering countertops
    • Installing grab bars, shower seats and walk-in bathtubs
    • Installing a stair glide or elevator

    Resources:

    • Easy Access Housing, made available through Easter Seals and Century 21, provides helpful suggestions for adapting every room in the house.
    • Creating Accessible Homes, published by Kansas State University, has helpful suggestions.

    Tips for Safe Patient Transfers

    Improper handling of a patient with a disability can injure both the patient and the caregiver:

    • To prevent back injury to you, bend at the hips and knees, not at the waist, as you prepare to lift someone; then straighten at the hips and knees as you lift.
    • Keep a wide base of support by spreading your feet apart. If you're transferring someone from one place to another, stagger your feet in a walking position, and shift your weight from front to back as you lift, while keeping the person as close to you as possible.
    • When turning, pivot on your feet or move them to avoid back injury. Don't twist at the waist. For added back support, consider wearing a safety belt like those used by workers who frequently lift and carry items on the job.
    • Wear shoes with low heels, flexible nonslip soles and closed backs.
    • Plan ahead. Know where you're going and how you're going to get there, and make sure the person you're lifting also knows. Move everything out of the way, and make sure the brakes are engaged on any wheeled devices. Transfer the individual to even, stable surfaces; avoid low or overstuffed chairs and couches.
    • If the patient starts to fall, ease him down onto the nearest surface, such as a chair, bed or floor.  Don't stretch to compete the intended transfer. You're likely to lose your balance, strain you muscles, or injure both you and the person you're transferring.
    • Tailor your lifting and transferring techniques to the type and degree of weakness in the person with ALS. Needs may change over time as weakness progresses.
    • Use mechanical devices to help you whenever possible. Don't be discouraged if a lift seems cumbersome or too difficult to use at first. Practice makes perfect!
    • If the person you're transferring is using a wheelchair, be sure to stabilize it by securing the brakes. Remove the footrests and armrest on the side he's being transferred toward.

    Mechanical Lifts:

    Child Alarms and Locators

    Keeping children safe is a challenge for parents and caregivers. Fortunately, there are specially designed alarms that provide a warning when a child wanders away.

    Portable baby monitors (such as those made by Fisher Price and Graco) can be worn or carried to provide extra surveillance when the caregiver leaves the room or falls asleep. Some models also have a video screen and camera. While these monitors are convenient, they are not meant to replace direct observation.

    Child Identification

    Several options are available for child identification including wristbands, shoe tags and temporary tattoos:

    • Kids Travel Card has child safety ID cards.
    • Kids Vital ID's has identification and medical alert wristbands and bracelets.
    • My Precious Kid has a variety of ID options including wristbands, bracelets and shoe tags.
    • Safety Tat is a temporary tattoo that is applied with water and lasts from 1 to 5 days. 

    Injury Prevention

    • Trauma Services at Cincinnati Children's, through the Toyota Buckle Up for Life Program, provides information to help you choose the correct car seat for your child’s age, weight and height and meet the requirements of the state where you live.
    • The Gift Shop at Cincinnati Children's houses the Safety Resource Center which includes a variety of safety products available for purchase, including car seats.
    • The Comprehensive Children's Injury Center at Cincinnati Childrens has injury prevention tips for parents to help keep kids safe. The information is broken down by age to help you find what you need.

    Architects and Consultants

    Take time to get recommendations and research an architect or contractor who has experience in home modifications.

    • Check with your local American Institute of Architects chapter for recommendations.
    • While Cincinnati Children's does not endorse specific architects, several Cincinnati area firms have indicated that they specialize in adapted design. Remember to research and ask for recommendations:

    Funding Sources

    A tax deduction can often be taken to reflect the cost of home modifications as a medical deduction. Home modifications must be certified by a physician as being required for health reasons. Other financial resources may be available to to help families pay for home modifications.


  • Contact Us

    If your questions are not fully answered by our Special Needs Resource Directory and its links, please contact us via email.