Physical challenges are a part of many people’s daily lives. If, you need to use a wheelchair, or have problems with your balance, a bathroom can be a very challenging room in the house. However, there are as many solutions as there are challenges.
Accessibility in bathroom remodeling used to be a major cause for concern, but there are many products available that can make your life easier.
Starting with the door
An accessible bathroom needs to have a door which is 34″ wide. Standard door handles or knobs may not be suitable options, levers or press button opening systems are better. Both can be easily fitted and are more user-friendly for someone in a wheelchair.
Once inside the bathroom, it is important to bear in mind dimensions. A wheelchair needs 5 foot to manoeuvre, but a specialist chair may need more space. It is important to discuss all the necessary requirements before you hire a contractor or an employee for the project.
Walk-in, or step-in baths, are still quite a rare sight in the US, and most homeowners prefer a curb less shower stall. Water flow can be a problem so it is important to make sure that the drainage is above average in the shower area. This could mean new plumbing pipe work, and making a point of discussing the drainage issue with a contractor should be a priority.
The homeowner may have a specialist wheelchair for the shower, however if this is not available a specialized seat is a good idea. Make sure to place grab rails in the shower to allow the user to move around the shower safely without the risk of falling or injury.
The shower itself is important as well. On most occasions a standard shower is not required, and it would be better to have a hand held shower head. Pay particular attention to the hose, and make sure it is at least 60 inches long.
Also make sure that hygiene products such as hair shampoo can be easily reached, the user should not need to stretch to reach them.
Easy to use faucets and sinks
In Europe the standard is now to install sensor switches for easy control of water flow but in many other countries the single-handed faucet is still common. This is an easy way to control both water temperature and flow of water.
Water controls should be easy to reach, and it is important that the sink is at the right height. A wheelchair user may not be able to use a standard sink, and this is just as important as being able to reach other facilities in the bathroom.
The toilet should be between 17 to 19 inches high, and the measurement should be taken from top of the toilet seat. However, there are many ways around this and to adjust the toilet you can add a separate base built up from the floor. Extra thick toilets seat can be used to add height to the toilet if a base is not an option.
The most important thing to remember is the need to have plenty of space to manoeuvre by the side of the toilet, and grab rails should be placed in the correct locations. There are specialist folding toilet armrests which can be installed, they are a good solution as they will support someone’s weight and help the user to access the toilet.
We often forget that someone with a physical handicap may find it difficult to reach light switches. Light switches should be placed at the correct height for the user not for the rest of the family.
Push button switches are easier to use for most handicapped persons but a large toggle can be a suitable alternative for some.
If you are planning a bathroom for a handicapped person, you can never install enough grab rails. Go into great deal to make sure that all grab rails are placed in the most beneficial positions, and remember that different kinds and sizes could be required.
Grab rails should also be non-slip and there are now grab rails that have special coatings and edges for safe use.
It could be a good idea to find a bathroom remodeling contractor who specializes in bathrooms for the physically challenged. They will have more experience, and will often have learned from experience which options work the best. As always, make sure all work comes with warranties, and the contractor of your choice has the right qualifications to complete the work.