Develop a Handicapped Bathroom Design Even When you are Not Handicapped…
A handicapped bathroom design is something to consider even when there isn’t a presently a handicapped person in your home. You never know when circumstances can change. A pregnancy, a broken limb, a disabled, or elderly visitor could make you thankful you made provisions for them. If you ever decide to sell your home, a disabled-friendly bathroom can even be a big plus. To design a bathroom for handicapped people, you need to think like one.
What would you need then?
Think in terms of a wheelchair. Most normal doorways are wide enough, but the entrance should allow for free movement of a wheelchair. There should be no sharp turns or clutter of bathroom furniture too close to the door. There should be no step on the doorway threshold. If there is a difference in floor levels inside and outside the bathroom, consider a little ramp instead. There should be enough room inside the bathroom to turn around easily.
A Handicapped bathroom design should keep in mind everything needed within reach, especially electrical switches, faucets, towel rails, soap dishes, etc. Faucets, door and cupboard handles should not be too hard to turn easily. Think also of legroom needed by a person in a wheelchair, especially under the sink, or vanity shelf.
Now imagine you are on crutches. What is most important to you? You definitely don’t need to fall. You should try and avoid any jutting out sharp corners Choose non-slip floor tiles in the bathroom and inside the shower, especially when wet. Bath mats should be ‘sticky’ type which don’t move under your feet. Grab-rails are a must. They should be fastened very securely to walls, beside the lavatory, inside the shower, next to the bath and the sink – in fact where-ever the person on crutches is likely to need support. Handicapped bathroom design should try to have exposed plumbing and electrical wiring chased into the walls or tucked right out of the way. You may consider panic-buttons within reach of the bath, shower and lavatory. Set them fairly low in case someone who has fallen needs to reach them.
The shower in handicapped bathroom design needs to be bigger than normal, in case the person having a shower needs assistance. There are a variety of safe and comfortable seats for showers that can fold out of the way when not needed. They are generally made of strong plastic or stainless steel. A wall-mounted, hand held showerhead with a flexible hose, is very useful. They are often mounted on a slide so that you can adjust the height. Soap dishes, toiletry caddies and faucets, as well as any other accessories should be within reach of the person sitting.
Most disabled or elderly people prefer a toilet seat that is not too low, as they sometimes have difficulty standing up again. Remember, a grab rail set on either side is a good idea. There are lovely bathtubs available today that have a seat molded into the side for those who cannot sit right down in the bath. Most of these tubs have built-in grab rails too. There are also a variety of seats and sitting shelves that can fit over the bath. Lately a new innovation promises to make the lives of disabled people more comfortable, and that is a walk-in bathtub! It has a watertight door that saves the person from having to try and climb over the edge of the bath. While the water is in the bath, it stays closed and when the water is drained out, the door can open. If this is used, it makes sense to have a programmable heat adjuster on the faucets, so that the person inside the bath while it is filling cannot scald himself accidentally.
As you can see a handicapped bathroom design need not be comfortable only for handicapped people, but for everyone in the household.
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