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Finding the right balance between style and function is important for any new bathroom design, but it’s even more important when creating a bathroom for an elderly or disabled family member.
There is absolutely no reason why a well-designed, accessible bathroom cannot look and feel like a luxury upgrade. A beautiful, stylish space can be created that appeals to all, creatively designed and appealing to everyone, regardless of ability.
With over 13.9 million disabled people in the UK and more and more elderly and disabled living independently, bathroom manufacturers have turned a corner in the accessible bathroom market. There is now a much greater choice in luxury, stylish bathroom products that are designed to enhance the independence and mobility of the elderly or disabled. Or indeed anyone living with restricted mobility. This wide range of products ensures safety and support as well as assisting in day-to-day living, whether you live in a house or an apartment.
Independent Living is a term used to describe living at home but with certain adaptations to help with mobility and everyday tasks. It’s about an individual being able to maintain independence, even if they lack mobility due to age or disability. Generally Independent Living means that you will not have a carer and that you can carry out daily tasks without the help of anyone else. If you choose Independent Living then the changes you need to make to your bathroom are minimal, small changes such as fitting a grab rail or level access to your shower.
Slightly different to Independent Living, Assisted Living is about adapting your home to maintain your independence and to help any carers you may have. Assisted Living usually means that you have a carer. This can be a full time professional or your partner who helps you with daily tasks, or even a friend who visits you to help with those tasks that you find too difficult.
An accessible bathroom can be characterised by certain improvements to comfort along with a number of design options. Intelligent planning of taps, fittings and furnishings is required to create an accessible space. The bathroom should be large enough to move around if it is to be used by a wheelchair user, and the layout of the room should allow for a clear turning circle of 1500 mm, it’s also important that the bathroom door opens outwards.
Toilet flush controls should be positioned towards the front of any cistern and on the side that is most easily accessed. Handles should also be easy to grip, and the toilet seat should ideally sit about 400mm from the floor. A level access shower is often the best option and a shower seat is recommended. Again, easy to grip and accessible controls should be made available.
An accessible bathroom does not mean that you have to compromise on design and comfort. Luxurious, elegant bathrooms can be created using the best in designer bathroom products available. A perfect example of this is the O. Novo Vita collection by Villeroy & Boch. Its many attractive details blend harmoniously with the bathroom design taking every consideration of comfort, practicality, hygiene and appearance into account. The extended wall mounted toilet from this collection gives a greater degree of accessibility to the toilet space and is easier to reach.
An alternative WC to consider would be the VitrA V Care Comfort Intelligent Rimless model. It combines the convenience and ease of a wall mounted WC with the comfort and cleanliness of the bidet. Fitted with an automatic seat and lid that senses approach, its heated seat can be warmed and ready for the ultimate in bathroom luxury.
When it comes to wet room panels, then Matki offer a superb choice, in a variety of sizes, the shower panels offer full flexibility when planning an accessible bathroom yet retaining a stylish elegance. The Matki Wet Room Walk-In Shower Panel is available in a range of widths so that you can design your perfect space for showering.
There is also a vast array of shower trays to complete the accessible bathroom and with their ultra-flat design more room is available to move around and still retain a luxury feel. Check out the Kaldewei Conoflat Rectangular Shower Tray which is also available with an anti-slip enamel finish for further safety. Additional features such as a rain showerhead will provide the ultimate spa experience.
Don’t forget discreet handles or 'grab rails' near washbasins, toilet, bidets and showers these can blend harmoniously with the bathroom interior.
Also give some consideration to your choice of tap. If you have any restriction in your hand movement then opt for a tap that has a simple to use lever action such as the Vivenis from hansgrohe which also saves up to 60% more water than that of a standard tap.
Adding grab rails to your bathroom can give you the extra support when needed, for example getting in or out of the bath. They also help reduce the risk of tripping or falling in the bathroom. Grab rails can also be called support rails or safety bars. They are available in all sizes, shapes and design but will support your weight to:
The most common types of grab rails are straight grab rails. Great in a shower. An angled grab rail gives a different grip option perfect for moving from a standing to a sitting position such as getting in and out of the bath and a folding grab rail gives even more flexibility, useful when sharing your bathroom with family they allow wheelchair users to easily move from chair to toilet before placing the bar to assist with movement and added stability. Check out our collection of grab rails, there is a great choice of style and design.
Whilst we’ve touched on shower seats above these can be a great addition if you have any issues with mobility. Adding a shower seat to your shower means that you can enjoy a relaxing daily shower in comfort. The seats are made using anti-corrosion materials and you can opt for various models that will suit your bathroom style and décor. One of our favourites is the Keuco Universal Shower Seat, it's sleek, comfortable, functional and contemporary!
Not everyone likes a shower, and a soak in the bath is one of life’s pleasures for many of us. There are now some great options to make bathing easier from the Ideal Standard Concept Freedom Single Ended Bath standing at just 460mm from the floor and allowing easier access for those less mobile, an integrated bath set to assist getting in and out, handgrip to help with forward movement and an integrated foot ledge. Or opt for an easy access bath with a low threshold side door and anti-slip surface, so safety and easy accessibility is guaranteed. Look for a bath with fast drainage of water too – this means that you’re not sat waiting for water to drain and less chance of getting cold.
DOC M stands for ‘Document M’ which are basically bathroom packs providing accessible bathrooms that meet regulations for public use in places such as hotels. A DOC M pack means that all of the products included have met government regulations to provide a safe bathroom space for those with limited mobility.