Blog > October 2018 > Adapted bathrooms: a practical guide to making your bathroom wheelchair accessible

Adapted bathrooms: a practical guide to making your bathroom wheelchair accessible



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An accessible bathroom for people with disabilities provides easy access and comfort, as well as ensuring self-sufficiency and dignity. So what should you consider before fitting an adapted bathroom suitable for use with a wheelchair?

Adapted bathrooms: what are the regulations?

Regulations normally apply to facilities in commercial or public places, such as hotels, restaurants and train stations, but we can still take tips from their recommendations when looking to plan domestic bathrooms. For example, the regulations in countries like the UK, advise that mixer taps are used in bathrooms for disabled people and that mirrors and grab rails be located at a height that is easily accessible from a conventional wheelchair. The height of fixtures and the distance between them is something that should be taken into consideration too.

adapted bathrooms mixer tap

Accessible washbasins for wheelchair users

Washbasins should be suspended to leave a space beneath the sink, with a mixer tap ideally having the functionality to be operated by a closed fist. Single lever, push button or electronic taps are ideal.

Adapted toilet

There are toilet models available on the market that have an opening at the front that allow them to double up as a bidet, which can be beneficial to many wheelchair users.

It is also advisable that adapted toilets be:

  • Suspended
  • Ergonomic
  • Equipped with a manual or pneumatic mechanism that allow them to tilt

Suitable toilets tend to vary in height from around 440mm to 500mm. It is recommended that the toilet has grab rails on one side with a folding support bar on the other, with the toilet roll holder fitted at a comfortable and convenient height. It is important to factor in whether a right hand or left hand transfer is preferred.

Adapted showers

A level access shower is recommended, either using a wet-room style shower where the floor of the shower is also the floor of the room, or one where the shower tray is set level with the surrounding floor. Generally, the minimum recommended size is 1000mm by 1000mm. Unfortunately, drainage can be less effective for these types of showers, so a waste pump will often be required to remove waste water. The pump should be easily accessible for maintenance. Wherever a shower tray is installed, it is advisable to use non-slip flooring for the surrounding areas.

Shower seats with a backrest should be wall-mounted and be at least 450mm by 450mm, leaving at least a 500mm space between the wall and the centre of the seat. Shower controls and an adjustable height showerheard (on a sliding bar) should be positioned in easy reach of the seat, and ideally 750mm from the floor at its lowest point.

Controls should be touch sensitive or lever type, ideally fitted between 750mm and 1000mm from the floor. Grab rails should be fixed securely within easy reach. Ideally, all rails should contrast in colour and brightness to their surrounding walls.

7 tips for adapted bathrooms

These recommendations will help you to create an adapted, accessible and safe bathroom.

  1. Install a sliding door – A sliding door creates considerably more room for an adapted toiler, allowing greater wheelchair mobility. If there is no sliding door, it is advisable for the door to open outwards for safety reasons.
  2. Non-slip floor – This is beneficial for everyone, but especially for people with disabilities. Water and other liquid spillages are common in a bathroom and increase the chance of slipping over.
  3. Free space of at least 150mm in diameter – This allows ample space for the wheelchair user to be able to safely make 360 degree turns.
  4. Anti-slip grab rails – Adapted bathrooms should have grab rails close to the toilet and in the adapted shower. You should always make sure the walls and tiles are in good condition ahead of installing the bars.
  5. Fixture height – All bathroom accessories, including soap holders, towel racks or shelves should be installed at a height of no more than 1200mm from the floor in order to make them wheelchair accessible.
  6. Adapted toilet seats – These should be checked to ensure they are secure and in perfect condition to reduce the risk of falls.
  7. Bathroom furniture – Built-in furniture should be avoided in accessible bathrooms. A built-in unit beneath a sink for example will make it difficult for a wheelchair user to access the basin. Wheelchair users should always have the convenience of being able to easily move about in the bathroom and access everything without difficulty. This means the bathroom should be as uncluttered as possible.

Find the right equipment for your accessible bathroom

At Sunrise Medical we have a range of solutions for accessible living for your bathroom and beyond. Our Coopers range includes aids for daily living including grab rails, bath boards and shower chairs. Looking for a compact powered wheelchair with an ultra-compact turning circle? Check out the Quickie Q100 R or Q200 R. Need a lightweight manual wheelchair? Why not take a look at the Quickie Krypton?