We all know that the bathroom can be one of the most dangerous places in the home, especially if it hasn’t been adapted to meet your changing needs and, when you consider the increasing number of visits to A&E as a result of bathroom falls, bathroom safety becomes of the utmost importance.
Falls in the bathroom can happen as a result of wet floors, not having enough space to move around, and through bending or lifting to help others access the bath, shower or toilet. Therefore, it’s not just the needs of the less mobile person that should be taken into account when designing an accessible bathroom. However, it is possible to design a bathroom that not only meets the needs of the wheelchair-bound and less-mobile, but which is comfortable for all users. So let’s look at 5 things you need to consider when designing an accessible bathroom.
- Bathing: Shower and bath accessibility
Incorporating a rolling shower seat or having a fixed seat within the shower is a great bonus for the less mobile, although a small removable stool or plastic chair can be used if there are others in the house who don’t wish to sit when they shower. The best height for these seats is between 17″ and 19″.
Disabled showers are also a great boon for people with disabilities, especially wheelchair users. Installed without a curb, they enable you to shower in comfort and, as they’re designed and installed without sealants and grout, they’re virtually maintenance-free.
If you prefer to take a bath rather than a shower, walk-in baths allow easier access by enabling users to walk into the bath, instead of climbing over the side. These specially designed baths come in a variety of sizes, and can be customised by choice of colour and door direction. A seat can also be included if required.
Grab bars are essential for ensuring the safety of less-mobile bathers. Two bars should be installed by a bath, one at sitting height and one at standing; while showers will benefit from having grab rails on all walls.
One of the most important things for bathroom safety is installing a nonslip floor. Whether you choose textured tiles, nonslip vinyls or some other kind of flooring, ensuring that it’s nonslip is the number one priority.
Also consider installing anti-scald bath and shower mixers in order to maintain a safe water temperature. These have easy-to-use controls and allow you to limit the temperature of the water.
- Bathroom sink accessibility
The sink should be wall mounted without a cabinet underneath to allow for both seated and standing users. Our basins are ergonomically designed, and suitable for wheelchairs, walking frames or perching stools, with a concave front to allow closer access.
- Bathroom toilet accessibility
Guidelines say that toilets should be 17″-19″ high, as it’s the most comfortable height for all users. However, we do offer raised seat pans which can be retro fitted, and which do away with the need for unattractive plinths or thicker toilet seats.
Wall-hung toilets can be mounted at a customised height to allow easy access for the user, and grab rails are always helpful.
- Lighting the bathroom
Good lighting is a very important aspect of bathroom safety. The light should be distributed evenly over the bathroom, with dimmer switches provided if you prefer to be able to adjust the levels of light. If there is a wheelchair user in the house, you may want to lower the light switches to make them more accessible, and consider installing switches with a large toggle to make manipulation easier.
- Other safety equipment
You may need to consider installing extra safety equipment, such as reclining bath lifts and transfer benches. Always choose fixtures and fittings that are both comfortable, convenient, and easy to control. Also consider that doors will need to be widened to a minimum of 34″ for wheelchair access, and incorporate lever style door handles rather than knobs. Rehanging the door to open outwards, if possible, will also give you more space for manoeuvring in the bathroom.