Key considerations for adapting bathrooms for the elderly
Designing bathrooms for elderly residents
If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to move around and use your bathroom independently, there’s plenty that can be done. This guide goes through some of the options.
The value of bathroom adaptations
Adapting a bathroom for elderly residents with restricted mobility provides renewed independence. It makes everyday tasks safer and more comfortable and can make all the difference between being able to continue to live in your property or not.
Seeking the right advice
Before you start planning a bathroom adaptation, it’s always advisable to consult an occupational therapist. They will be able to offer sound advice regarding your mobility now, and potentially in the future. This will give you a clearer understanding of what’s required to make things safer for you at home. They may even be able to refer you to funding that can help with your adaptation project.
Getting the design exactly right
Every person is unique and an accessible bathroom design should keep this in mind, first and foremost. The design should be built around your needs (or the needs of the end user). Your bathroom installer should take the time to discuss all the areas in which the alterations may assist you.
This discussion will take place during your survey. It may be the case that your installer wants to try out specific aspects of the design, such as rail heights, in order to make sure the bathroom is right for you.
What kind of access is required?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to designing bathrooms for the elderly. You therefore need to think carefully about the type of access you require.
Are you looking for support while moving around? Perhaps it’s a more comfortable way of bathing? Is it wheelchair access you require? Or maybe it’s all of the above?
KEY CONSIDERATION: The resident may not currently require wheelchair access. But, is this something that could become a factor in the future? If so, you may want to make the bathroom design wheelchair accessible now, rather than having to adapt it again further down the line.
When mobility is a challenge, bathrooms can be difficult at best and dangerous at worst. The combination of slippery, damp conditions and hard surfaces is a constant hazard. However, a few simple changes can counteract this.
Simple adaptations include:
- Anti-slip tiles, flooring and bath mats
- Handles and grab rails
- Bath and shower seats
Having the ability to bathe independently makes all the difference. This change alone makes everyday life simpler and more enjoyable for many. You can achieve this in a few different ways:
- Walk-in showers (with optional seating).
- Wet rooms.
- Walk-in baths.
Walk-in showers are sought after bathroom design features. They provide a luxurious, spa-like showering experience in many homes. Because the shower tray is on the same level as the floor, there’s no step up, making them easily accessible.
Open fronted or walk-in showers can incorporate seating, either standalone or fold down. If required, a walk-in shower can be built wide enough and with an open front for wheelchair access.
Wet rooms differ slightly in that the shower is open plan and usually the whole room needs to be covered with tiling or linoleum. The benefit of a wet room is that it’s hugely versatile and the showering area is less restrictive in size.
Walk-in baths are a brilliant option for those who still want to benefit from the relaxation of lying in a bath, but are struggling to step over the surround safely.
KEY CONSIDERATION: How many years will you live in the property for? If you have plans to sell the property in the near future, specialist features like walk-in baths and wet rooms may be less desirable for potential buyers. In these cases, a walk-in shower is a great alternative.
The height of the toilet, sink and units
The height and depth of these features really depends on personal preference. Some elderly users or users with a disability will find a lower toilet and sink easier. For others, higher, wider designs are better. For instance, it’s easier to lower or transfer from a wheelchair or walker to a toilet that’s 43cm to 48cm high. These are all details you can discuss with medical professionals and your bathroom designer.
Selecting the design
It’s important to remember that although you’re adapting your bathroom to make it more functional, you can still create a design you love. There are plenty of styles to choose from when it comes to suites and you can personalise the room further through tiling and décor.
Bathrooms adaptations for accessibility can help your property feel like home again. If you’d like to talk to someone about your bathroom, you can get in touch with our team on 0800 980 6018 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.