Adapting a bathroom can improve the quality of life, independence, health and well-being of so many people with age or health-related disabilities or limitations. But, what are the best products to adapt your bathroom?
The answer to this lies partly in the challenges you face in your daily routine.
- Is sitting on, using and getting up from the toilet an effort?
- Do you find it hard to get in and out of a bath?
- Is the edge of your shower tray an obstacle to you, or your wheelchair if you use one?
- Are you worried you might slip or fall in the bathroom?
- Is drying after a bath or shower difficult for you?
For some people, these routines require assistance from a carer or relative. Are you embarrassed by that, or do your bathroom needs not always coincide with when they are available?
With the UK population ageing and as we see better outcomes for people with life-changing injuries or illnesses, more bathrooms need to be made more accessible. This has led to an increase in the range of bathroom mobility aids, giving users a great choice of options.
But before you decide what adaptations would be best for you, let’s look at a few of the choices available. We would always recommend seeking the advice of a bathroom adaptation specialist before making a purchase, but the following guide will explain some of the advantages these products offer and the situations they are most suited to.
1. Smart Toilets
Using a conventional toilet can be hard if you have limited mobility or hand strength. It isn’t easy to bend or rotate your body and grasping the toilet tissue to clean yourself may be difficult. Poor personal hygiene shouldn’t be the price you have to pay for this.
A smart toilet takes all the effort out of toilet hygiene. Using easily accessible controls, you can direct a stream of warm water to thoroughly clean yourself, followed by warm air to leave you totally dry and fresh.
A smart toilet can also be raised to a more comfortable height that reduces pressure on the knees and joints and makes sitting and rising easier.
If you still need further assistance with getting up from the toilet, we recommend fitting a grab rail within easy reach. If there isn’t a wall next to the toilet, a drop-down rail is another option.
2. Bath Lifts
For many people, a long soak in a warm bath is a luxury they are unwilling to sacrifice, and for good reason. Its known benefits are physical – reducing the swelling and stiffness of aching joints and relaxing the body – as well as psychological – calming the mind and preparing us for a demanding day or a good night’s sleep.
One of the main benefits of a bath lift is how easily it can be added to an existing bath. Take as an example the Hydrolift from EA Mobility.
- It is powered by a rechargeable battery, so needs no mains electrical connection
- It retracts unobtrusively out of the way, allowing the bath to be used conventionally
- It is easily operated by a button on the unit or via a handheld control
- A safety seat at the edge of the bath allows safe and easy transfer from a wheelchair to the lifting belt
- The non-slip lifting belt gently lowers you into the bath and out again when you have finished
- When it is no longer required, it can be removed and the bathroom restored to its former appearance
A bath lift is ideal for anyone with reduced body strength or stiff joints, whether or not they use a wheelchair. It’s also a good option if you would prefer to retain your original bathroom, or can’t afford a more extensive adaptation.
3. Walk-in Baths
If you still enjoy bathing rather than showering and would prefer a more elegant built-in look, you might want to consider a walk-in bath; they are also better than a bath lift if you have difficulty raising your legs over the bath edge.
Walk-in baths feature a door with a watertight seal on the side of the bath for easy access. They come with a wide variety of design options, including:
- Low-level or ultra-low entry
- Wider access
- Integral fixed or powered rise-and-fall seat
- Choice of upright sitting or lying down bathing position
- Bath/shower combination
Your bathing experience can also be enhanced in a walk-in bath from EA Mobility with the optional addition of Aqua Spa massage, chromotherapy and Bluetooth sound systems. Read more about the benefits of walk-in baths here.
4. Level Access Showers
While showering is easier than bathing if you have restricted mobility, even a conventional shower tray can have its challenges.
These are generally raised several inches above the level of the bathroom floor to allow for drainage and have a deep lip around the edge to contain the water. This creates a threshold that is an obstacle to wheelchairs and anyone who has difficulty raising their feet to any height.
A level access shower sits almost flush with the bathroom floor and has a lip of 10mm or less, meaning it is even accessible to a wheelchair without assistance.
While some structural work may be needed to accommodate the drainage under the tray, level access showers are available with footprints that are the same size or smaller than a conventional shower or bath. So, if you are replacing only an old bath or shower with a walk-in shower, the rest of the bathroom can remain intact.
Level access showers can also be fitted with a carer-height shower screen, which folds across the lower part of the shower access and allows carers to access the shower area if assistance is required. It also prevents water from splashing out into the bathroom from the shower tray.
5. Slip-resistant Shower Trays
Slipping in the shower is one of the most common bathroom fears of elderly or mobility-impaired people, and with good reason: most injuries in the bathroom are due to falling and slipping is the main reason for falls.
While a removable slip-resistant bath mat may seem to be a cheap solution, it can also be a trip hazard and a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
Exchanging your shower tray for one with a permanent slip-resistant surface will eliminate those slipping worries and give you a safe, easy-to-clean showering area.
6. Shower-proof Boarding
While we’re on the subject of easy cleaning, have you ever considered changing out the tiles in your shower?
Grout lines may look great when they’re new, but before long they will start to develop small cracks, mould, mildew and discolouration. This makes them unsightly and allows them to harbour harmful bacteria, as well as being harder to clean.
PVC shower-proof boarding is a low-maintenance alternative to tiles with great benefits, such as:
- PVC boarding is completely waterproof compared with tiles and will protect your walls from water damage
- It’s much easier to keep clean and better at resisting mould, mildew and harmful bacteria
- PVC is a good insulator, so boarding is warmer to the touch, better at retaining the heat in your shower and less likely to develop condensation
- With a wide choice of patterns available, PVC shower-proof boarding will give your bathroom a sleek, seamless look.
7. Wet Rooms
Wet rooms are often found in homes and hotels where their minimalistic, seamless lines exude luxury. But they are also a reasonably-priced option for practical, accessible bathrooms.
To create a wet room, the underfloor is profiled to direct any water towards an integral drain outlet. A waterproofing layer is then applied to the floor to seal it, followed by non-slip, waterproof flooring.
Because the entire floor area is protected, the shower area doesn’t need a lip around it or to be fully enclosed to contain the water. Obstacles such as a shower tray edge or a shower door are therefore eliminated, allowing easy access even to wheelchair users.
Aside from accessibility, the benefits of a wet room include:
- Easy cleaning, as the entire floor can be showered or mopped without risk of leaking
- Hygienic, as there are no grout lines between floor tiles or places where dampness can accumulate and encourage bacterial growth
- Versatile, as the wet room can be configured to fully benefit from your bathroom’s shape and size
A wet room can also be an excellent investment, as with such a wide range of wet room products to choose from, you can create a bathroom with a real wow factor.
8. Body Dryers
Holding a towel while standing to dry can be difficult if you have muscle weakness and stiff joints, while leaving those hard-to-reach areas damp is a good recipe for developing sores and fungal infections.
A warm air body dryer can be fitted in a conventional bathroom, wet room or even in a shower cubicle, and allows you to effortlessly dry your entire body without assistance.
As it involves no skin contact, the warm air eliminates the rubbing or chaffing of thin or sensitive skin which is another cause of soreness and infection.
It is more hygienic than towels, which retain bacteria and moisture and return them to your skin as you dry with them
Your home will also benefit from the warm air as it circulates the bathroom, removing steam and condensation to prevent limescale and mildew, while a body dryer uses 90% less energy compared to washing and drying towels.
How EA Mobility can help
As a specialist bathroom adaptation provider, we have many years of experience and a wide range of solutions that can be tailored to your individual needs.
We also strive to create pleasant mobility bathrooms where you can begin and end each day in comfort, using products that are stylish as well as functional.
Every client’s needs are different, which is why we like to start with a visit from one of our home assessors. This is completely free and without any obligation to use EA Mobility for your bathroom adaptation.
It’s also an opportunity for us to get to know you personally and to assess your needs while giving you professional, unbiased and personal advice on how your bathroom can be adapted.
If you choose to use EA Mobility for your bathroom adaptation our designers, fitters, electricians, plumbers and decorators will manage the entire project from concept to completion, working to the highest standards and with minimal disruption to your home and life.
If you would like to book a visit from one of our home assessors, please call us on 0800 955 8810 or fill out our online Contact Form and we will respond promptly.