Designing a Bathroom for Disabled Persons
When designing or remodeling a bathroom for handicapped or elderly persons, there are actually three things to keep in mind:
The bathroom experience should be safer, easier, and more comfortable. Here are some points to consider for your handicapped accessible bathroom:
• Safety grab bars should be installed in the shower, beside the bath, and next to the toilet to make the bathroom accessible.
• A bathroom for handicapped persons should be designed with enough floor space to accommodate wheelchairs. This means at least 1500mm diameter to allow full turns.
• The toilet in a handicapped bathroom needs to be slightly higher than usual. Most toilets are between 350mm and 400mm from the ground, but this seat height causes problems for many disabled people. Medical handicap toilets are typically 460mm high.
• The bathroom sink and vanity should be within easy reach. With plenty of space underneath to accommodate a wheelchair. The taps should be easily accessible as well
• Exposed plumbing and electrical wiring should be covered to prevent contact. Sharp edges of furniture should be protected with sponge-filled covers.
Other Things To Consider When Building A Handicapped Bathroom
• Elderly and disabled people are more prone to slip on the bathroom floor, especially if it is wet. The floor of a handicapped bathroom should be made of non-slippery materials, or at least treated with a slip-proof coating. You should avoid using tile or vinyl flooring unless it’s sanded or sand-like in texture.
• A walk-in bath is certainly more accessible to a handicapped user than a conventional bath. Rather than forcing you to step over a bath wall, you simply open a light door to enter the bath. The door closes with a watertight seal. The disadvantage is mainly one of time, as you have to sit and wait for the tub to fill before you can bathe, and you have to wait for it to drain before you can open the door to exit.
• A walk-in shower has a floor that is level with the rest of the house, giving it easy wheelchair access. (Of course, this is only a viable option for wheelchairs that are designed to be submerged in water.) The walk-in shower is slightly less safe than the walk-in bathtub, due to the added risk of falling. However, it is quicker and easier to use, especially for wheelchair bound users.
• If placing a new shower or bath in your current bathroom is beyond your scope, then you can simply install a chair or sitting shelf in your existing tub or shower. Installation of these sitting shelves is generally quite easy, and can go a long way towards making your bathroom accessible to handicapped persons.
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