Bathroom adaptions for easier access: all you need to know
Date Published: 5 January 2021
Often, we take bathrooms for granted; we’re all familiar with basic bathroom design, and use ours daily without much thought.
For some people, though, the average bathroom is difficult to use. From wheelchair users to elderly people, bathrooms can present all manner of usability issues. Thankfully, these are easily remedied with a few bathroom adaptations that will make your loo, shower and sink easily accessible for everyone.
We’ve put together an easy-to-understand guide to bathroom adaptations and how you can install them easily and effectively.
Why would I need to install bathroom adaptations?
You can choose to make your bathroom more accessible for any number of reasons.
Primarily, a bathroom needs modifications when a member of the household is unable to use it safely or efficiently. If you or somebody in your household uses a wheelchair, is elderly, or experiences mobility problems of any kind, bathroom adaptations can make daily life significantly easier.
If you’re concerned that your bathroom will be difficult to use when you get older, installing bathroom adaptations in anticipation of this is a great way to be prepared for the future.
Wheelchair accessible bathroom design
If somebody in your household uses a wheelchair, having a correctly designed bathroom is of the utmost importance.
First and foremost, if you’re undertaking major renovations to your home or bathroom, there are a few key points to consider. It’s best to work with a professional interior designer or architect, as they’ll be familiar with building regulations and guidelines for accessibility.
Important features to look out for in your new bathroom design include:
- Plenty of space for wheelchair users to maneuver around, including a wider door frame.
- A door that swings outwards to allow more room for maneuver in the bathroom.
- Correct heights for sinks, grab rails, mirrors and toilets.
- Correct dimensions for bathroom furniture, such as the right sink depth.
- Accessible wash facilities, such as a level access shower.
- Make sure bathrooms are on the ground floor where possible.
Building regulations in Ireland
Although accessibility regulations mostly apply to public or semi-private bathrooms in Ireland, they can provide valuable information when it comes to private residential bathroom adaptations. You can download Part M of the building regulations as a guideline for sink heights, rail heights, door swings and more.
Bathroom adaptations for the elderly
Whether you’re future-proofing your home or modifying your bathroom for a new household member, you can make similar bathroom adaptations to accommodate elderly people.
Make sure to install grab rails around the toilet, sink and bathing areas. Anti-slip tiles are necessary anywhere that gets wet, and lighting must be adequate to ensure bathroom users can see what they’re doing and lessen the risk of tripping or falling.
For showers, look for level access models without a tray, or consider building a wet room instead. For baths, if grab rails aren’t enough, consider installing a bath lift instead.
Bathrooms are best placed on the ground floor of homes for elderly users, too; if your only bathroom is upstairs but the household member will reside mostly downstairs, it’s worth installing a new ground floor bathroom.
How to make your existing bathroom more accessible
A few bathroom adaptations can make your existing bathroom more accessible for anyone with mobility issues.
Showers and baths
Swap your shower to a level access shower, or wet room style shower, that doesn’t have a tray or ridge that needs to be stepped over. For baths, install a bath lift. Look for sliding shower rails, that can double up as grab rails, and easy-to-use temperature controls.
The best wheelchair accessible bathroom sinks are wall-hung at an appropriate height, with no storage underneath to allow the chair to fit underneath whilst the sink is being used.
Adjust the heights of toilet paper dispensers, towel rails, storage, sockets and mirrors to make them accessible to wheelchair users.
Look for taps and handles that are specifically designed for ease of use. Avoid taps that twist on and off, for example. Wall mirrors that are pointed at a slight angle towards the floor can also accommodate wheelchair users better.
Install grab rails around all bathing areas, sinks and the toilet. You can find the correct dimensions for these in the building regulations, or ask our experts in store for more advice.
Look for fold-down grab rails for smaller bathrooms.
Choose non-slip tiles in all wet areas. These tiles will prevent slips and falls, allowing the bathroom user more security when washing or bathing.
Replace your toilet with a taller model. If this isn’t possible, consider replacing the toilet seat itself with a thicker version to add height.
Make sure your bathroom is well-lit. This will help bathroom users avoid tripping or knocking into objects.
Set temperature limits on taps to avoid water becoming too hot and potentially causing dangerous burns.
The Doc M pack
Look for a Doc M pack when shopping for your bathroom furniture and accessories – it contains all you need for making your bathroom more accessible for anyone with mobility issues. You can visit our showroom or contact the team for information on Doc M packs.
The Doc M Pack includes:
- 450mm 2 tap hole mounted wash basin
- Mono-bloc spray mixer tap
- Easy operational flush handle
- Raised height WC
- White ergonomic toilet seat with lid (soft closing)
- Close coupled cistern with screw down lid
- White grab rail
- White fold up grab rail
- Full flush 6 litres, half flush 4 litres mechanism
- White bottle trap
Ask the experts
Siobhan, from the Halo Tiles Sales Team, explains more about the products that are in the Doc M Pack and how they can help to increase comfort and safety for older people and people with mobility issues.
Government adaptation grant
If you need to install some bathroom adaptations for the elderly or for those with a disability, luckily you can get support from your local council.
The Housing Adaptation Grant for Older People and People with a Disability provides grant money for people looking to make larger-scale adaptations to their homes to allow for greater accessibility.
For smaller scale home and bathroom adaptations, the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme can cover installations of grab rails, level access showers and more.
If you’re an older person looking to adapt your home, or you know someone who is, the Housing Aid for Older People Scheme may also apply to you.
For information on availing of a government adaptation grant, visit Citizens Information.
Shopping for easy access bathroom fittings
Shopping for bathroom fittings can be overwhelming. Thankfully, our expert staff are on hand to advise and help you choose exactly the right pieces for your bathroom.
For more information on bathroom adaptations, or to buy the Doc M pack, email or call the team today.