Designing any bathroom needs a lot of thought and planning but if you need to incorporate a wheelchair accessible bathroom or one suitable for the elderly and infirm, there are a few additional factors to consider. First of all, it is important to understand what is meant by assisted living compared to independent living.
Assisted living means that in general, a person needs a carer involved in their daily lives. A carer ranges from a professional who comes in to help with daily tasks, to a spouse or friend or family member that lives with them, or who comes in to help out. Independent living means that with some adjustments to the home, a carer is not required, and the individual can carry out daily routines without relying on another person.
You need to consider the height of the toilet pan, particularly if undertaking disabled bathroom renovations or bathroom modifications for the elderly. If having to move from a wheelchair onto a toilet seat, you will need to include easy height toilets. Even if they’re not in a wheelchair, getting up and down can be a problem for those who need assisted living. The toilet pan’s heights are around 40 mm higher than the average toilet and this also helps the carer if they have to lift and move their client when using the bathroom.
Consider choosing a toilet style which incorporates arm and back rests because these can help support and keep the user safe when sitting on the pan. For those who have mobility problems with their hands and joints, twisting, pushing and turning handles to flush the toilet is also an extra difficulty. Raised toilet buttons make it a lot easier to flush so incorporate these into your design.
Showers and baths
For the shower area, wherever possible, try to avoid a “lip” or step up into the shower when considering bathroom design for elderly homeowners. A level access shower is best with underfloor tanking, so there is a smooth transition from bathroom floor to shower. Wet rooms are very popular, particularly if this is for a wheelchair user and seats or ledges fixed to the bathroom shower area, allow the individual to safely move from wheelchair to shower.
Grab rails securely fixed at the right height to suit the person using the bathroom should also be a primary consideration. These should be fixed inside the shower area and/or by the bath. There are some baths which can be accessed from the side as well before filling with water, otherwise lifts and hoists have to be considered if a bath is a requirement.
Wash basins and taps
Wall hung basins not only allow for easy cleaning underneath, but also for the tapware to be more accessible, with no restriction on the floor around the basin. Taps with levers are easier to move on and off, so factor this in as well.
For those people with dementia, there are also one or two other things to consider incorporating into your design. Spatial awareness and vision can become a problem for those suffering from dementia, for example, having a black mat on a white floor they perceive as being a hole in the ground. Bright white tiles can also present a difficulty as they may find it difficult to judge the space around them, so avoid white tiles with a smooth surface and choose ones with a “dimple” effect.
Finally, it is very important to speak with your local bathroom specialists who have many years of experience when it comes to designing assisted living bathrooms.
Get in touch with a designer from Style Bathrooms who will not only be able to provide you with expert advice but also help to turn your bathroom dreams into a reality, so you can enjoy a functional yet stylish and safe space. Contact us today.