As Remap panels can attest, problems with window opening and closing are quite widespread. Often awkwardly placed, or requiring considerable strength and/or dexterity, windows that can’t be adjusted by the householder have an impact on quality-of-life and independence. Here is one low-tech solution which could have wider applications.
Window opening solution required
The Glasgow panel was asked to help a woman in her 70s with very limited mobility.
Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, she was slowly losing confidence due to the limited range of movement she could achieve. The client lives alone in small flat, and has carers attending.
She normally does her own housework to the greatest extent she is able to manage. Her house is spotlessly clean and well cared for.
She has a problem, which is important to her, in that she encounters difficulty opening and closing windows. This is particularly so with her kitchen window (shown above), as it involves reaching across the sink.
She has tried using a step, but is afraid this may slide on the kitchen floor.
She has been provided with a “handreacher”, but this does not give the necessary grip on the window handle. The window is opened by turning the handle from a vertical to a horizontal position and then pulling to open. Closing the window is the reverse of this procedure.
First steps planning and measuring
Project manager and chairman of the Remap Glasgow and Renfrewshire panel, John Convery, started by talking to the client and checking a few dimensions whilst she was standing relaxed at her kitchen sink.
This helped him determine the “extension” she would need to reach the window handle comfortably.
A simple study of the window handle itself indicated that a tubular shape of particular dimensions could be made to slip easily over it.
Then consideration was given to both the extension and the leverage the client would need, to enable her to overcome the resistance of the window handle, bearing in mind her very limited arm / hand strength.
And lastly, he had to think about the possible overall weight of the device. It would need to be very light, whilst retaining enough strength and rigidity to turn the handle without distorting.
Towards an ingenious – and cheap – solution
Initial consideration was given to fabricating the extension arm from mild steel tubing. However, this would have been too heavy, as well as requiring the use of welding.
Aluminium was also considered, as it would probably be sufficiently light in weight – but it would also be more complicated regarding the welding process.
The final choice was 32 mm plastic pipe, as normally fitted below the average household kitchen sink, together with the fitting designed to screw into the bottom of the sink.
The pipe is sold as a pre-bent L-shaped item and is designed to fit directly into the sink fitting in a manner which was considered to be sufficiently strong to cope with the window opening stresses.
No welding and no adhesives were required.
The finished article is light enough for the client to handle with confidence and is very easy to keep clean and simple to store.
The client can now open and close her windows with confidence. She likes the overall “feel” of the tool and has no qualms about using it. The efficient leverage of the design means that she only needs to apply a little force to make it work.
She was also very happy that the final outcome was not the heavy metallic object she was expecting!
The overall cost of materials was slightly under £7.00, purchased as a package from a well-known DIY store.
No painting, cutting or finishing work was required.
Could this solution be adapted to deal with other window opening referrals?
The basic problem being addressed in this referral (window opening) is fairly common and, whilst it is accepted that design of handles and opening methods may vary, it is possible that variations of this tool could solve a large percentage of the referrals.
Further reading and resources
You can read more about the work of Remap Scotland here