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.






    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.

    Protecting yourself from having a fall at home

    Having a fall - older woman

    The impact of having a fall

    Having a fall can be a frightening and shocking experience. Whether the fall takes place indoors or outdoors, at home or away, it can make a person feel vulnerable. This is especially true for an older person and if this leads to a fear of falling, it can have a big impact on their quality of life.

    Depending on the circumstances of the fall and whether or not an injury was sustained some people can become less confident, less independent and more socially isolated.

    Fortunately a lot of falls are preventable and many things can be done to reduce the chances of having a fall. The biggest hurdle can be people realising that they are at risk in the first place.

    “Around 1 in 3 adults over 65 who live at home
    will have at least one fall a year,
    and about half of these will have more frequent falls.”

    NHS on Falls

    It is common for older people to ignore this because they are keen to maintain their independence. They see making some changes or accepting equipment offered by occupational therapists as giving in when really it is the opposite. It can help keep someone safe and independent in their own home.

    If the chance of someone having a fall can be reduced this can increase the chances of their continuing to live satisfying lives.

    Reasons for falling

    There are lots of reasons why people fall such as weak muscles, poor balance, dizziness, visual problems or medication. If you have any medical concerns about falling you should discuss this with your GP.

    Other reasons people fall can be due to hazards in the home. Our handyman service can help with jobs such as securing loose carpets that may cause you to trip, fitting an extra stair rail to give you extra support, installing grab rails in areas of the house you may feel vulnerable in, building concrete half steps to reduce the height of external steps, or even doing some jobs that you may feel could cause you to have a fall, such as changing light bulbs, putting up curtain poles or clearing the gutters.

     

    How We Care Home Improvements can help

    Our handyman service is set up to help with exactly this kind of home maintenance, and we have been helping people with their homes for over 30 years. You can completely trust our handymen and handywomen, who are all Trading Standards Approved.

     

    Get in touch

    Our customer service representatives can often provide a quote over the phone. If not, we will arrange for a Handyman or Handywoman to visit you and complete a quote that way.

     

    • 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.