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Accessible Bathrooms - Carers UK Forum

Accessible Bathrooms

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
Hi there,

My aunt suffers from a lack of dexterity and uses bathroom aids (pull bars, seat riser etc...) to move around and bathe herself. She feels particularly embarrassed when we have guests as the bathroom is quite explicitly built around her. I am a final year design student from Cardiff and I am looking to redesign the bathroom space for the elderly to become a more welcoming and natural environment.

I was wondering what other issues you may have noted with accessible bathrooms. From talking to others I have learned that:

Self consciousness is an issue
Unwillingness to bathe due to depression, loneliness or lack of awareness
Dementia can lead to fear of the bathroom
The ageing population is an emerging issue (19 million aged 65 by 2050, 8 million of that figure will be aged over 80)

I am finding it difficult to approach individuals with similar issues and was hoping the carer community could provide a broader insight.

Thank you : )
Hi and well done you for taking this on-a good project
Here are some thoughts
Enough space to turn around and get in walking frame or wheel chair
None slip floors as elderly more likely to fall
Not putting shower too high on wall for someone seated to reach it (voice of experience speaks!)
Taps that are easy to turn on and off
Raised toilets that don't need unattractive blocks on top to raise them up
Door bolts that can be opened from the outside
I was disabled in a car accident in 2006, both knees needed replacing, I could only crawl upstairs. My eldest son converted my garage to a bedroom with en suite. It was incredibly difficult to get information about designing an accessible bathroom. The LA OT department were especially unhelpful!! To cut a long story short, I finally found the Disability Living Foundation in London, who had all sorts of drawings etc. Much to my son's disgust, I decided to fit a bath with shower over, because I've always been a "hippo" who liked a daily bath. But my bath is lower than average, easier to step in and out of. The bath tap end is completely flat. If required, it would be easy to change the bath for a shower unit. Behind the plasterboard, the walls are lined with marine plywood, so I can have grab rails whenever and wherever I want, although I don't need any at the moment. I have a shower curtain, not screen, easier to keep clean and never in the way. My taps have the hose for the shower fitted, and the hose goes up the wall, so if I want to, I can take the shower off the wall and wash my hair in the bath. The toilet is extra high, but beautifully designed so it doesn't look like a special toilet at all. I'm 5ft 10in, so love my toilet. The walls behind the cistern are also lined with marine ply, ready for drop down toilet/grap rails if I need them. The sink is in a piece of kitchen worktop going right across the room, so useful for putting my bits and bobs on. Beneath the worktop on one side is a cheap set of Ikea Antonius baskets, so should access to the plumbing be required, it's easy. The other side of the sink (in the middle of the worktop) is my washer/dryer. Dirty clothes in, clean dry clothes out. All this is covered by a simple curtain on an extending shower curtain pole, wall to wall. Then, if the washing machine needs to be taken out for servicing, it's simple quick and easy. I have an electrically heated towel rail (bliss) and a Dimplex downward facing wall heater over the door (double bliss). Finally, I have an extra large doorway, so that should I end up as a wheelchair user, as mum did, I can still get in and out of the bathroom. All this in a room just over 2 metres square!
Henrietta wrote:Hi and well done you for taking this on-a good project
Here are some thoughts
Enough space to turn around and get in walking frame or wheel chair
None slip floors as elderly more likely to fall
Not putting shower too high on wall for someone seated to reach it (voice of experience speaks!)
Taps that are easy to turn on and off
Raised toilets that don't need unattractive blocks on top to raise them up
Door bolts that can be opened from the outside
Thanks Henrietta,
These are some great pointers and they coincide with what research i've done so far. I hope to keep this thread updated with concepts and visuals over the next 6 weeks : )
bowlingbun wrote:I was disabled in a car accident in 2006, both knees needed replacing, I could only crawl upstairs. My eldest son converted my garage to a bedroom with en suite. It was incredibly difficult to get information about designing an accessible bathroom. The LA OT department were especially unhelpful!! To cut a long story short, I finally found the Disability Living Foundation in London, who had all sorts of drawings etc. Much to my son's disgust, I decided to fit a bath with shower over, because I've always been a "hippo" who liked a daily bath. But my bath is lower than average, easier to step in and out of. The bath tap end is completely flat. If required, it would be easy to change the bath for a shower unit. Behind the plasterboard, the walls are lined with marine plywood, so I can have grab rails whenever and wherever I want, although I don't need any at the moment. I have a shower curtain, not screen, easier to keep clean and never in the way. My taps have the hose for the shower fitted, and the hose goes up the wall, so if I want to, I can take the shower off the wall and wash my hair in the bath. The toilet is extra high, but beautifully designed so it doesn't look like a special toilet at all. I'm 5ft 10in, so love my toilet. The walls behind the cistern are also lined with marine ply, ready for drop down toilet/grap rails if I need them. The sink is in a piece of kitchen worktop going right across the room, so useful for putting my bits and bobs on. Beneath the worktop on one side is a cheap set of Ikea Antonius baskets, so should access to the plumbing be required, it's easy. The other side of the sink (in the middle of the worktop) is my washer/dryer. Dirty clothes in, clean dry clothes out. All this is covered by a simple curtain on an extending shower curtain pole, wall to wall. Then, if the washing machine needs to be taken out for servicing, it's simple quick and easy. I have an electrically heated towel rail (bliss) and a Dimplex downward facing wall heater over the door (double bliss). Finally, I have an extra large doorway, so that should I end up as a wheelchair user, as mum did, I can still get in and out of the bathroom. All this in a room just over 2 metres square!
Thanks for the detailed response bowlingbun!

I am particularly interested in your toilet, do you know the make/model?
I'm glad you pointed out the ease of plumbing as maintenance is often something that is overlooked.
Google "Rak compact special needs" - there is one for only £79! (I paid more than that).

The other really important thing I forgot to mention is that the door should open out, not in. I made a mistake with mine, it goes in. However, I've since read that they should always open outwards so that in the event of anyone collapsing inside, you can always get them out. With an inward facing door, if I collapsed in mine, the only way I could be rescued would be by breaking the door down or breaking a window. Learn by my mistake!!!
Hi bowlingbun. Your bathroom sounds like exactly what we need for my grandson at the moment. Would it be possible for you to show some pictures of it?
Because the door opens inwards, it's difficult to take a good photo, but I'll have a go later on and see what I can do. Cost wise, it was very cheap, in comparison to Dolphin bathrooms who came up with a sum of about £20,000!!!!! I think the most expensive thing was the bath, it came in two materials, plastic or something stronger. Roughly the budget was about £500 for bath and taps/shower. Cheap curtain and rail from B&Q, about £40. Toilet £200, plus a bit of kitchen worktop, and inset sink with taps, under £200. I made a mistake with the taps, I should have bought a kitchen style mixer tap with a swan neck so I could fill my kettle up at the sink, rather than the bath. The most expensive bit was the plumber, he did lots of other things for me as well, so I can't tell you how much it cost, possibly about £500 in all. My son built the partition between the bathroom and the main bedroom area, and filled it with solid insulation (Celotex). I thought this was over the top, but in fact I can put the washing machine on before I go to bed and it's so quiet I can fall asleep when it's on, and I'm a light sleeper! I'm lucky, my son was trained as an aircraft sheet metal worker and is incredibly fussy, his standards are far higher than a builders (in the opinion of a builder!!) and he has Land Rover friends with various trades. Because the bathroom window faces south I wanted to let the sun in and see who was in the garden, so I opted for clear glass in the window, with net curtains and a venetian blind when privacy was required. It's much cheaper if you buy the components yourself off ebay, B&Q etc. then just get someone to fit them.
That sounds ideal - we don't have a lot to spend on it at the moment. You are lucky in having a son who has these skills. I think our biggest expense would be a walk-in bath as our bathroom is upstairs.
Your costings show that it is possible on a budget, thanks.
Are you sure that you don't qualify for a "disabled facility grant" from your local council. If you have limited savings and modest income, you might qualify. A little secret, there is usually an annual budget for this sort of thing, so if you apply at the beginning of the financial year, it may well be approved more easily than at the end of the year. Unfair I know, but then so is life!