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:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Neuromuscular disease
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.