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Bathrooms for the elderly, disabled or infirm

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As a population we’re living much longer which, on the surface, is a good thing. But it also means that a greater proportion of people are suffering from long term illnesses, disabilities and just plain old “old age”.

The body gets weaker, bones more brittle and it can become difficult to move around. Especially in places like bathrooms. Standard bathroom layouts and equipment can be troublesome for the elderly and disabled, if not dangerous. Fortunately there are now a wide range of options to make life easier and bathrooms far more accessible.

Grab Bars / Rails

The first step in creating a safe bathroom is grab bars or rails. Providing a secure hand hold to allow the elderly or disabled to move around the room, it’s important the right type is chosen (including the maximum weight they will carry), they are positioned correctly and affixed properly.

The range of grab bars available is now quite extensive with something for every type of bathroom, both in terms of safety and design. At Back2BATH we have an extensive range which includes white ABS plastic, chrome on brass and stainless steel and even suction. Each is designed to provide both safety and style – we don’t believe that you should have to settle for a clinical look to provide safety.

If you require advice on which grab bar or rail will be best for your bathroom, please contact us and we’ll do our best to advise.

Bath & Shower Seats & Stools

Showerdrape White Bath BenchFor those who find it difficult to stay on their feet for any length of time or to get up from the bath there are some fantastic bath and shower stools and seats available. Allowing the elderly or disabled to enjoy a good bath or shower, they are valuable additions to a bathroom.

Our bath seat is designed to sit on the edges of the bath, with rubber caps to avoid any slipping and protect the bath. The perforated seat allows water to run through freely and it’s large enough to suit almost anyone. Attractively priced at just £29.95 at the moment, it’s ideal for any home with a requirement for bathroom aids.

Showerdrape White Shower Chair with Adjustable LegsShower stools can sit in baths with overhead showers but can also be used in shower cubicles and wet rooms as they are free standing. Adjustable legs allow the height of the stool to be suited to the height of the person. Rubber caps on the legs prevent slipping and protect the bath or shower and, again, the seat allows water to drain freely though it. A shower chair is much the same but also has a back rest to provide back support for those who need it.

Flooring

To remove any chance of slipping in the bathroom, especially when it’s wet, we strongly advise replacing any type of flooring you may have with either carpet (not ideal for bathrooms) or cushioned non-slip vinyl or rubber. You might not think this sounds very attractive but actually there are some super designs available and the cushioning is very comfortable underfoot. Take a look at these photos, they’ll give you some idea of the styles you can get.

Slate/stone effect non-slip rubber flooring. (Image Credit: polymax.co.uk
Patterned non-slip vinyl flooring tiles. (Image Credit: harveymaria.com)
Rubber stud tile is available in a wide range of colours, providing slip resistance and style.

Walk-in Baths, Low Level Shower Trays & High Level Toilets

While it’s necessary to provide strong hand holds, appropriate seating and slip resistant flooring in a bathroom for the elderly, disabled or infirm, it’s all pretty pointless if they can’t actually use the facilities.

That’s why there are a range of bathroom fixtures designed just for these kinds of situations.

Designed to be easily accessible, walk in baths tend to feature low thresholds, so you only have to lift your feet a few inches to step into the bath, wide doors to provide access for almost anyone, slip resistant built in seats for extra comfort and safety and they can even be designed with hydrotherapy spa systems for extra luxury. A walk-in bath allows elderly or disabled people to enjoy the same relaxing baths as the rest of us.

If you have a walk in shower cubicle then you might think that’s perfect for an elderly or disabled person. However, if they need to step over the shower base more than a few inches they’re likely to struggle. A low level shower tray is the answer. Typically they are only two to three inches high and slip resistant – perfect for those who struggle to get around.

Finally, high level toilets allow people to retain their dignity. A standard toilet is likely to be too low for an elderly or disabled person to lower themselves onto, but by positioning the seat higher, they can use the facility all by themselves – no embarrassing assistance needed. Well worth considering when planning a renovation.

The Wet Room Option

We briefly mentioned wet rooms earlier and they can be the ideal solution for bathing for the elderly and disabled. By making your bathroom almost entirely waterproof, with the correct flooring and suitable fixtures, you create the perfect environment for safe, comfortable and dignified bathing. It could even prove cheaper than investing in specially made fixtures like walk-in baths.

Slip resistant waterproof flooring is laid across the floor and partially up the wall to create a base, suitable draining is put in place, well positioned grab bars and handles are installed, an overhead shower and a high level toilet are added and that’s it – your basic wet room is ready to use.

We hope we’ve demonstrated that with a little thought and planning the elderly and disabled can enjoy the bathroom just as much as we all do, retaining their diginity and independence and that it can be done with some degree of design and style too!


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