To help your relative organise the kitchen to suit his or her needs, it is well worth discussing how they use the kitchen, what tasks they carry out there, and what difficulties they might sometimes have.

Positioning of food and utensils 

Chat with your relative about where food and utensils are usually stored. Any items used fairly regularly should be easy to access – not too high up or low down, and not too far back within a cupboard. 

If it is unavoidable that some items will have to be reached down from higher places, keep a stable step ladder nearby to help. 

If your relative sometimes forgets where certain items are stored, add labels to each cupboard or drawer. 

Room to sit 

Certain tasks are easier to perform when seated. If there isn’t already a table and chair in the kitchen, you may be able to install a small set in one corner if there’s room. 

Perching stool 

Alternatively, consider a perching stool, which can be very useful in the kitchen as long as there is space for your relative’s knees under at least one work surface. This would allow your relative to get close to the work surface and not have to lean forward too much. If a perching stool is to be used for washing up, there should ideally be knee-room under the sink. These stools are available with and without padded arms. 


Washing-up sometimes requires a significant amount of time and energy. If space allows, consider installing a dishwasher. The best not only save time and effort, they can be more efficient in terms of hot water and energy use. Several manufacturers now offer compact dishwashers, some of which are approximately half the size of standard models and ideal in kitchens where space is limited. 

Some other dishwasher features to bear in mind include: 

  • buttons for controls rather than electronic touch pads, which are more fiddly to use 
  • buttons raised from, rather than flush to, the surface might be easier to deal with 
  • anti-flood devices that stop a dishwasher from filling further if there is water in its base. 

The type of washing-up bowl your relative uses can also make a difference: a smaller bowl is easier to find items in, and easier to empty with less risk of spilling the water. 

Page last reviewed: March 2015
Next review due: November 2016