3 Easy Steps to Effective Kitchen Design

The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the home. It’s the focal point of many important and desired activities of daily living. The modern kitchen’s evolving and customizable features mean endless design possibilities, as well as an incredible amount of occupational activities of the user. From the clinician’s perspective, we can use these innovations to promote safety and independence in the kitchen.

The steps below outline a quick assessment and recommendation process to ensure our patients’ essential roles in the kitchen are maintained despite injury, disability or aging:

1.   Determine Occupation Preferences

For therapists who work with the aging or disabled population, assessment of the kitchen often leads to the identification of areas in need of improvement. To ensure a client-centered, occupation-based approach to intervention, begin by asking the client: “What occupations are important to you in the kitchen?” 

  • Cooking?
  • Baking?
  • Feeding your pets?
  • Taking your medication?
  • Making the morning cup of coffee?

Depending on the answer, the therapist should then present other, less desired activities needed for health and safety, such as:

  • How do you wash your dishes?
  • How do you take out the trash?
  • How do you sweep the floor?
  • How do you make sure your food in the refrigerator is not spoiled?
  • Where is the fire extinguisher located?

2.   Uncover Hazards & Form Goals

With the patient’s chosen occupations in mind, the therapist should walk through the task or simulation of tasks. Using activity analysis, uncover hazards or barriers in the environment where modification could ensure safety and continued participation.

A good assessment tool can guide the process toward quality outcomes. Knowing what outcomes you hope to achieve can be a great tool to use and can result in effective recommendations:

  • My client needs to have safety first during all kitchen tasks.
  • My client needs to be independent in making their own breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
  • My client needs easy to use appliances because of memory impairment.
  • My client needs to rest frequently due to their chemotherapy treatments.
  • My client lives with family members so the sink and stove space needs to be flexible in use.

3.   Make a Recommendation

The occupational therapist showcases their distinct value in home design by the suggestions made to create an ideal kitchen space.Working through steps 1 & 2 allows the clinician to gain an important understanding of their client and the environment needed to achieve the best fit. Knowing new gadgets and design features also help inform your clients on how to meet their desired outcomes based on the available kitchen space. The recommendation phase is the most fun and rewarding part of the home assessment process.

A formalized assessment brings important medical considerations and occupational priorities to the forefront. These act as blueprints to guide a remodeling or design-build project. Therefore, professional environmental assessments can be viewed as a critical piece to effective home design.