6 ways to make your bathroom disabled friendly

Lately, it has become more popular to make your bathroom disabled friendly or more accessible earlier in life rather than later.

But making your bathroom disabled-friendly doesn’t mean that it’ll look clinical. There are many modern fixtures and fittings that can maximise independence and safety whilst looking stylish. We have experience in designing and installing accessible bathrooms for people living with:

  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Visual impairments/blindness
  • Reduced mobility

A personal assessment from an Occupational Therapist (OT) can help identify adaptations that will meet your current and future health needs. However, we can also offer you simple advice on specialist equipment and fixtures to increase your comfort and independence in your bathroom. Here are our top 6 ways for you to make bathing a safer experience, now and in the future.

1. Install a level access shower

A level access shower is a type of shower that doesn’t have a step or lip before you enter the showering area. So people with all levels of mobility can enter the shower without fear of tripping. This makes it suitable for children, older people or wheelchair users.

This is possibly the single biggest adaptation that you can make to your bathroom to make it safer. It gives you easier access to the shower in a self-contained area for showering. You can have full height shower screens to stop the water from splashing to other areas. Carers can easily assist with bathing if necessary, or the screens can have a frosted effect for full privacy.

disabled friendly bathroom wheelchair user
Our number one disabled bathroom tip – install a level access shower!

2. Install grab rails in key locations

Grab rails are the next most impactful thing you can install in your bathroom to make it disabled-friendly. This is because they allow you to hold onto something for stability, avoiding falls and injuries when bathing. They are also very quick and easy to install.

Most grab rails are made from tough moulded plastic or stainless steel. They can be positioned next to the toilet, in the shower, or on and near to the bath. This gives you something to hold on to when making any difficult movements or when you need help with balancing. Wheelchair users can even use them to help with transferring onto a toilet or bath/shower board.

grab rails disabled friendly bathroom
Grab rails come in all shapes and sizes

3. Non-slip flooring or anti-slip mats

Slip-resistant flooring offers extra safety, especially if you have a level access shower. All of our showers come with a slip-resistant floor for your peace of mind. However, if you have a regular shower or bath it’s worth investing in high-quality anti-slip mats.

Poor quality mats that aren’t secured properly can be just as much of a falls risk as not having a mat at all. That’s why we recommend only thick rubber mats from a trusted retailer. Thick rubber will almost always have great traction, especially if the mat surface is ribbed or dotted. Thicker mats are also less likely to have their corners turn up, which is also a trip hazard.

disabled older person bath mat
Make sure you buy a high-quality bath or shower mat

4. Add stools, boards and seats to aid bathing

A walk-in shower might make it easier to bathe, but if you’re able to stand you may still find it hard to stand for long periods of time. A hot shower can be fatiguing. Couple this with balance issues and a wet room or walk-in shower is no longer a safe option.

That’s where stools and seats come in. A shower stool is much easier and more comfortable to sit on than sitting on the floor. These stools are made of hard reinforced plastic, with strong suction pads or rubber ferrules on their feet to keep them in place. They have slats or that allow the water to flow through and drain away.

You can also have a seat fixed to the wall that drops down and folds up. This keeps things flexible, depending on who is using the shower. If you have a bathtub still then you can use a small shower stool or buy a bath/shower board that sits on top of the bath.

There are slatted seats to suit baths or showers

5. Motion sensing lighting

Automatic lighting can be a blessing, particularly at night or when there is minimal light coming into the bathroom from windows. Motion-activated lights mean that you don’t need to worry about locating a light switch or pull cord in the dark. They are also very energy efficient, given that they turn themselves off when they aren’t in use.

Many older people will use the bathroom during the night, so it’s always important to make sure that the hallways leading to the bathroom are well illuminated. This will make any potential trip hazards clearly visible.

6. Thermostatic showers with easy-to-use controls

A thermostatic shower guarantees a safer shower by keeping a stable temperature for the duration of your shower. There aren’t any sudden changes to the temperature because of someone turning on a tap or flushing the toilet elsewhere in the property. There’s no danger of the shower user being scolded by very hot water. They are a major feature of the dementia-friendly wet rooms we install.

It’s also wise to make sure the shower is equipped with easy-to-use controls. For some people a one-button shower is appropriate, but also for others keeping the controls familiar will avoid any accidents or confusion. There are remote buttons and Smart functions available for carers and loved ones to keep control over the shower for those that can’t operate it themselves.

thermostatic shower disabled friendly bathroom
Thermostatic showers coupled with simple controls mean extra safety

Improve your bathroom and transform your life!

The bathroom will always present difficulties for some older people or those living with a disability. However, some thoughtful and clever changes can transform the way that you bathe. Loved ones and carers will have the peace of mind that comes with these extra safety measures. But most importantly, you can remain independent in your own home for longer.

Some of our suggestions are easier to implement than others. If you need any advice at all, just remember that we’re here to help you in whatever way we can.






    Designing your wet room

    Wet rooms, also known as level access shower rooms, are the trendy modern bathing solution for a designer bathroom that everyone can use.

    Accessible shower wet room bathroom
    A wet room you can be proud of as well as safe in

    Why a wet room?

    It’s our mission to make homes enable access for all. That means that every room of the house needs to be safe to use for whoever is living there. The bathroom can present a few hazards, with things like shower trays and bathtubs to step over. This is why we prefer to install level access showers. They take the stress away from bathing for a stylish looking bathroom that’s safer and easier to clean and maintain. In this article, we will go over the parts that make up a wet room, that we think about carefully when designing your new shower room.

    But where’s the shower tray?

    Wet rooms have a tray that is sunken into the floor below. This means that you access the shower from the floor level rather than having to step over the lip of a tray. This is altogether safer, removing a major barrier to access for people with mobility issues.

    Ideally, the shower tray area would be as large as possible because you don’t want water splashing out to other areas of the bathroom. Safety and ease of use go hand in hand. We will advise you about what is possible in the space that you have. There are also many non-slip flooring options available that minimise any danger posed by water leaving the shower area.

    Shower panels or tiles?

    Tiles have been the style in bathrooms for many years, but recently shower panels have become very popular. Panels keep the shower area watertight; you can still have tiles in the wider room. Our experts will be able to design the wet room in a way that makes everything look seamless.

    You may have one or several panels in the actual shower area with a screen separating it from the room, with up to three of the bathroom walls tiled. You may have a room that is completely panelled. Panels can come in various colours, patterns and effects, like frosted glass style or mirrored. They can match the flooring or contrast, whichever you prefer. The benefit of panels, much like the non-slip flooring, is that they are very easy to clean and maintain versus tiles.

    dementia friendly accessible bathroom wet room
    A dementia friendly accessible bathroom

    Digital, electric or mixer shower?

    A mixer shower has hot and cold water inputs that are mixed in the shower bar. You can set the temperature on the shower’s control panel or by using the taps, depending on the type you have installed. We would also recommend having a thermostatic valve installed – this protects you from sudden temperature changes if someone else uses the water in the house.

    However, you may prefer an electric or digital shower instead. Both electric and digital showers let you start the shower with the water at the right temperature straight away, either by pre-setting the temperature controls on the panel or using a smartphone app with a digital shower.

    Digital showers are usually the easiest to install, with the control unit being installed discreetly in the loft. They are also the most modern and fully featured. Electric showers can be useful where there is low water pressure or for people that want a simpler manual controls option. There are also control options for people who are blind or have different health needs.

    Designed with you in mind

    Whatever your needs, we can design a wet room that works for you. From the style and colour to the shower itself, there are options to suit everyone. We’ve converted small bathrooms into level access showers, and even converted other rooms such as garages where our customers have needed more space or a ground floor accessible bathing solution.

    If you want to have an informal chat about designing your wet room, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our bathrooms team can give you advice on funding options if you’re concerned about the cost. We are here to help remove the barriers between you and your safety and independence in your own home.






      Lois and David’s story: Why moving house can sometimes be the best option

      In order to stay independent at home, it’s sometimes worth thinking about moving house to meet your changing needs.

      lois david moving house housing options wheelchair disabled we care

      Lois and David’s story

      Lois contacted We Care for advice after her husband David had some falls at home.  David had been advised that he was no longer safe using the stairs at home by a healthcare professional. Lois was in the process of arranging for him to live downstairs in the dining room, which she knew would be very disruptive and impractical for them.

       

      David was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and dementia in 2011 and his walking ability has gradually declined over the years.  Lois was aware that David might need to use a wheelchair in the future. Because of this, she wanted to explore the possibility of extending the back of the house to create a downstairs bedroom and bathroom.

       

      How We Care was able to help

      After an initial phone call the couple agreed to a home visit from Maria, our  in-house occupational therapist (OT).  Maria visited Lois and David to gain a full understanding of the couple’s needs.  The attachment to their home and their desire to continue living there was clear.

       

      “It was a relief to get professional advice from Maria and Fatima as I had no idea what to expect or what was needed”

      Lois

       

      Maria returned at a later date with our technical lead, Fatima. Fatima was able to survey the property to establish what was structurally possible.  Lois said ‘It was a relief to get professional advice from Maria and Fatima. I had no idea what to expect, or what was needed”.

      Given that Lois and David live on a very steep hill, Fatima explained that it would be very difficult to extend the property. It would be a timely, disruptive and expensive undertaking if they did decide to adapt their home.

       

      Moving house is an option they had not considered

      The team recommended Lois and David explore all of their options before making such a big decision.  Lois remembers when the team first asked if they had ever thought about moving, her reaction was very strong. ‘Definitely not!’.  Having spent 18 years making a house into a home, they felt they had too much to lose.  Lois was also concerned about how David might manage in a different environment due to his dementia.

      The couple agreed to be referred to our Housing Options service (funded by Bristol Ageing Better) for support with this.  Our case worker, Michael, visited the couple to discuss all of their options and help them make an informed decision.

       

      “People are often overwhelmed at the thought of moving home, but it can be the right decision for some, especially when the home environment works against them and their personal needs”

      Michael

       

      Michael says “People are often overwhelmed at the thought of moving home, but it can be the right decision for some, especially when the home environment works against them and their personal needs”.

      For Lois and David, the location of their home on a steep hill was their biggest hurdle.  Even if the home was extended to include a downstairs bedroom and bathroom, David would still face significant difficulties getting up and down the steep driveway. Eventually, this could lead him to become housebound and lessen his quality of life a great deal.

      A holiday at Our Bench changed their minds about moving house

      Luckily, during these discussions Lois and David had a well-timed holiday planned to an Our Bench Accessible cottage. This gave them the opportunity to experience staying in a wheelchair accessible bungalow first hand.

      lois david moving house housing options disabled we care

       

      “The holiday made me realise there is a different way of living.”

      Lois

       

       

       

      Lois said “The holiday made me recognise there is a different way of living.  Everything had become difficult at home and we just got on with it.  In the bungalow, it was all so much easier than going out at our house.  David was able to enjoy going out because he didn’t need to waste energy getting out of the house and up the driveway.  He was able to shower every day and it was so much easier for me to care for him”.

      On return from their holiday, Lois realised that although she found the prospect of moving daunting, it would be worth it in the end.  The couple began viewing local bungalows for sale. They got back in touch with We Care for advice on making the entrance wheelchair friendly and installing an accessible bathroom.

      Lois said “It was very reassuring to us to know that once we had found our dream bungalow we would have help, support and expertise of the team at We Care to enable us to adapt the bungalow to meet our needs. It was one less thing to worry about”.

      They have now had an offer accepted on the bungalow and are looking forward to a new way of living.

       

      How we can help you

      • Call us on 0300 323 0700 for a chat with our technical team to find out how we can help you adapt your property. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
      • Or send us a message and we can get in touch with you.
      • If you are considering a bathroom adaptation, you can pop into our Bristol showroom to see some examples of our stylish yet accessible bathrooms

       

      Could a holiday in an accessible home help you make your mind up about adapting your home?

       

      Lois and David’s stay at an Our Bench accessible cottage was crucial in helping them decide to move to a more accessible home.  Helen’s runs Our Bench with her family.  She says it is not uncommon for those that stay in the accessible cottages to go on to decide to make changes to their homes based on their positive experience.

      If you’d like to know more, give Our Bench a call on 07751 064167.

      We can help you with your Housing Options. Contact us if you are thinking of moving house to meet your changing health needs.

       

       

       

      Bathroom adaptations – Planning ahead for you and your home

      Bathroom adaptations are our speciality. That’s because they are the number one way to keep you independent in your own home for longer.

      Adaptive bathrooms Occupational Therapist

      Adapting your bathroom can increase independence

      Unfortunately, as people age, most houses become increasingly difficult to live independently. The thought of moving house is not surprisingly very unappealing to most older people, many of whom have lived in their home for several decades. Children were raised in these homes, memories created.

      This is where home improvements like bathroom adaptations can help. Through a few relatively simple changes, homes can be made liveable in again and independence restored to the homeowner, giving a new lease of life not only to the property but also the person or people living there. There have even been studies that have shown how minor adaptations like accessible bathrooms not only help people stay in their homes, but they prevent falls and injuries, improving everyday activities and mental health.

       

      How a bathroom adaptation helped Margaret

      We help hundreds of people every year to carry on living at home through a few small adaptations.

      One of these people is Margaret. Margaret had been living in respite care for nearly 5 months following a fall where she broke her arm. Her daughter, Sue, contacted us as she wanted to help her mum to get home and back to the independent living she was used to, but was concerned about her safety. She had previously had a couple of falls and had now been told that she would not get full movement back in her arm.

      We started with an assessment by our in-house occupational therapist (OT), Maria, who visited them both at Margaret’s flat. Maria spent time talking to both Margaret and Sue and looking around the home to best understand Margaret’s needs and wishes.

       

      “I felt like I had made a new friend.”

      Margaret

       

      “I was a bit nervous and was expecting the occupational therapist to be a bit bossy to be honest!” Margaret said. “But by the end of the visit, I felt like I had made a new friend in Maria. She was very reassuring.”

      After Maria’s visit, our technical officer, Chris C, and builder, Chris D, visited to provide a quote for adapting the bathroom to meet Margaret’s personal needs. Margaret had a level access shower installed with a free-standing chair.

       

      “I really think the new shower is fantastic. It’s such a help. And it was all so quick!”

      Margaret

       

      Level access shower bathroom adaptations

      “I was impressed by how tidy and considerate the builder was.” Margaret commented. “I really think the new shower is fantastic. It’s such a help. And it was all so quick!”

      It took just 10 weeks from the OT assessment to the new bathroom being finished.

      Sue added, “It’s a weight off my mind to know that my mum can relax and enjoy her new shower at the same time as staying safe.”

      The bathroom is often the first place people tend to have difficulties as they get older. We advise planning ahead and making small changes in the bathrooms of your elderly parents or loved ones before a crisis situation arises.

       

      Get in touch

      If you are considering a bathroom adaptation or would like to know how we can help you or your loved ones to stay safe and independent at home, we can help.

       

      • Give us a call on 0300 323 0700 for a no-obligation chat with our team. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
      • Or, ask for a free quote and we will get in touch with you.

       

       

       

      About We Care Home Improvements

      We’re a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to improve the homes of older people and those with disabilities. Our aim is for people to live comfortably and independently at home for as long as they choose. Our specialties are bathroom adaptationshome adaptationshandyperson servicesoccupational therapy and home independence products.

      We Care have been in the home maintenance business for over 30 years and our handyman service is Trading Standards Approved. As an approved supplier to Bristol, Bath & NE Somerset and Gloucestershire councils, you can be sure that our work is of a very high standard.

      Finding it difficult getting in and out of the bath?

      Woman getting out of the bath

      We see a lot of clients who find it difficult getting in and out of the bath. This could be because of a health condition or just being less mobile than you used to be. Throw water and wet surfaces into the mix and you can have quite a risky situation on your hands. If there is no one else home when you are bathing this can cause even more concern.

      Help with getting in and out of the bath safely

      Happily there are ways we can help you to increase your safety if you’re finding it difficult when getting in and out of the bath. Some examples might be:

      • A simple grab rail on the wall for you to hold onto for support and reassurance.
      • A bathboard that sits over the top of the bath (secured by adjustable brackets) which allows you to sit down whilst transferring your legs into the bath – some people also use this to sit down whilst showering.
      • A bath lift allows you to sit in the water – you transfer onto the seat and transfer your legs into the bath, then you use the electric hand controls to lower the seat into the water and bring you back up once you’re finished.

      The best solution for you will depend on your personal capabilities and your own bathroom layout. For example, a bath lift is not usually suitable for use in a corner bath. Or if you can’t lift your legs, a bathboard won’t help.

      You should give your circumstances some thought before choosing any equipment. Or alternatively give us a call and let us help.

      Bathroom design can make all the difference

      Some people decide to redesign their bathroom. The safest option is usually to remove the bath and install a level access shower. Some are reluctant to change their bathroom as they think it won’t look inviting, but there is a lot of choice available in fixture and fittings.

      Consider a level access shower

      The benefits of a level access shower include:

      • Reducing the risk of falls by not having to clamber over the side of the bath
      • You can walk straight into the shower – there is no step to lift your feet over, which again lowers the risk of having a fall
      • You can have a seat installed so you can sit while you shower yourself. If you experience tiredness, this may save you some vital energy
      • An increase in your independence. You might need a carer to help you have a bath but having a shower may allow you to wash without any help

       

      How We Care Home Improvements can help

      If you’re finding it difficult getting in and out of the bath and would like advice on choosing equipment for the bath, or to find how we can help with adapting your bathroom, you can:

      Give us a call on 0300 323 0700 for a no-obligation chat with our team. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.

      Request a call back and we will get in touch with you.

      Visit our Bristol showroom to see some examples of our beautiful bathrooms and talk to our friendly and knowledgeable team.

       

       

      About We Care Home Improvements

      We’re a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to improve the homes of older people and those with disabilities. Our aim is for people to live comfortably and independently at home for as long as they choose. We specialise in accessible bathroomshome adaptationshandyperson servicesoccupational therapy and home independence products.

      We Care have been in the home maintenance business for over 30 years and our accessible bathrooms service is Trading Standards Approved. We are an approved supplier to Bristol, Bath & NE Somerset and Gloucestershire councils, so you can be sure that our work is of a very high standard.

      Robert’s story: Building an accessible bathroom for Bridget

      An accessible bathroom can improve your home and transform your life. Just ask Robert and Bridget.

      robert bridget we care home improvements accessible disabled bathroom

      This is the story of how an accessible bathroom changed Robert and Bridget’s lives

      Robert lives in Whitchurch with his wife Bridget, 81, who has been living with Alzheimer’s for over 10 years. Robert is Bridget’s carer, and as her condition has advanced has needed to help more and more with washing.

      Recently Bridget found being in the bathroom was becoming a stressful experience. This was because the existing shower had become too difficult for her to step into safely. It was also becoming awkward for Robert to lean in and help her. The toilet had also become a challenge for Bridget to get on and off easily.

      Robert browsed the website and talked things through with his daughter Julie. He then phoned us for a chat. They all went along together to look at the showroom in Bristol to have a look at what was available, try things out and get some professional advice.

      Visiting the We Care showroom

      “I really, really liked Sam, who greeted us and showed us around the We Care showroom” says Robert. “He was so warm and friendly. Sam spent a lot of time talking to me and showing us the different showers.” Bridget tried sitting on a toilet frame with Sam’s help. He adjusted the height so it was just right. After looking through the showroom, the family realised that updating the whole bathroom would make life a lot easier for everyone.

      The next step was to get a We Care Home Improvements qualified occupational therapist to visit the family for a home assessment and to help Robert and Bridget understand what tasks they find difficult and find out other ways or adaptations that might help. A technical officer also came for a visit to assess what Robert and Bridget might need in their new bathroom.

      Robert and Bridget got their own dedicated We Care project manager called David. David got to know the family and put together a personalised plan for them to show them how the building work would progress. He was there to reassure them so that they knew what was happening and when. David managed the entire process from start to finish. He oversaw the work so that Robert had just the amount of control that he wanted. “I felt that David was on my side and I had confidence in him,” says Robert. “He gave me peace of mind and satisfaction that I’d get a proper job done.”

      Getting help with decisions

      David came along with Robert to talk to the plumber and help support Robert in some of his choices of fixtures and fittings: “He helped me make decisions, and I felt like he was my advocate,” he says. It was reassuring too to have David on hand to make a final inspection of the work, too. “And because I was paying We Care for the work and they were signing it off,” said Robert, “I knew that the job was going to be done properly.”

      After the bathroom installation, which the family was really pleased with, Robert also went back to We Care to get some help with arranging a stairlift. When his wife needs to start using a wheelchair, which may be soon, he’s going to get back in touch for some more support because he knows they’ll be able to help. “I liked going to We Care because I was very pleased with the quality of work. And because I trust them,” says Robert.

       

      How We Care can help

      We Care have been in the home maintenance business for over 30 years and our accessible bathroom service is Trading Standards Approved. We are an approved supplier to Bristol, Bath & NE Somerset and Gloucestershire councils, so you can be sure that our work is of a very high standard

      Next steps

      • Simply call us on 0300 323 0700 for a no-obligation chat with our team to find out how we can help you. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
      • Or request a call back and we can get in touch with you.
      • Alternatively, you can pop into our Bristol showroom to see some examples of our beautiful bathrooms and talk to our friendly and knowledgeable team.

      *Names have been changed. Image displayed uses actors

      Everything you need to know about adapted bathrooms

      Adapted bathrooms can help make life easier

      It’s something that none of us relishes the thought of, but in later life small everyday activities can become much harder.

      Your bathroom can often be the first place that becomes more challenging for you to use. You may find things like getting in and out of a bath can suddenly make washing very difficult. This is when many people benefit from bathroom improvements such as hand rails, grab rails, easy access (sometimes called level-access) showers or wet rooms.

      At We Care Home Improvements our focus is to give you the freedom to live independently and safely in your own home. Even simple changes in your bathroom can be life-changing.

      Are adapted bathrooms clinical looking and unattractive?

      We’re specialists in designing accessible or adapted bathrooms and have been doing it for over 30 years. We always work very closely with our customers, considering their needs and considerations every step of the way. Just because you are having an accessible or adapted bathroom, that doesn’t mean you want your home to look less stylish than it did before. At the core of what we do is to make sure your new bathroom is not only designed for your needs, but it’s also designed beautifully. We take pride in offering bathrooms that are both practical and contemporary in their look and feel.

      Do I need to get in lots of different quotes from tradespeople?

      No! We take care of absolutely everything for you. We work with a qualified occupational therapist to give you a free initial assessment. They work together with your own dedicated project manager. Both the OT and project manager will ensure that you receive a bathroom design completely tailored to your needs. Both now and in the future.

      We have a team of trusted tradespeople that we regularly work with and can guarantee great quality at a fair price. We understand how important it is to be able to trust the people who come into your home. That’s why these builders and plumbers are all personally vetted by us. Your project manager will take charge of everything, from quotes and timings, even down to paying the bill at the end. We won’t pay the contractors we use until we’ve ensured that you are completely satisfied with the work.

      You will be kept informed every step of the way so there is no confusion. You can rest assured that our priority is to make the least disruption possible in your home. Not only that, but we also ensure the work is done efficiently, expertly and in a timely manner.

      Next steps

      • Simply call us on 0300 323 0700 for a no-obligation chat with our team to find out how we can help you. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
      • Or send us a message and we can get in touch with you.
      • Alternatively, you can pop into our Bristol showroom. There we have examples of our beautiful bathrooms and you can talk to our friendly and knowledgeable team.