The great thing about Universal Design is that it helps one design an practical and functional bathroom remodel for a person with disabilities and for all ages and stages of life. Depending on the specific needs for the person, there several things you can do to make sure the bathroom is appropriate for the person. However, style and design do not need to be an afterthought. Whether you want a contemporary or an old fashioned bathroom, with a little thought you should be able to make it fit for purpose and look fantastic. Let’s take a look at some ideas that can help:
Ask Appropriate Questions
Asking appropriate questions before designing a bathroom for anybody is considered best practice, however it’s even more appropriate for a person with disabilities. Small feature changes and a thoroughly thought out design can have a significant impact on the functionality of the room.
Here are some common questions to start:
- What will the user’s needs be in the future?
- What activities can they do independently, and will bars be needed?
- Would they prefer a bath or shower?
- Will medical supplies be needed and where should they go?
- What activities does the user need assistance with?
- Is there enough space to move easily.
Getting The Dimensions Right
The door to the bathroom needs to be at least 34 inches wide to allow wheelchair access and ease of access for other disabled people. There should also be levers instead of doorknobs. If a traditional wheelchair user is in the bathroom, they’re going to need at least a 5 foot turning radius. However, this may be less if an electric wheelchair is used. In general, lots of space is best for a disabled bathroom.
Bathing and Showering
A shower stall without a curb is usually best, but a rubber one may be used if the client prefers. A small chair or stool can help with bathing and showering. For somebody using a transfer seat, the shower should be 36 inches wide. For somebody with a wheelchair, it should be 60 inches. If you can have controls installed near grab bars, that can be helpful for the user. A non-slip floor can help to prevent falls.
Hand Held Shower
A hand held shower is a good option for disabled bathrooms. However, you should be sure that the valve is thermostatically controlled to avoid burns. A regular showerhead may also be included depending on needs. You can use grab bars that add a pop of color to the bathroom rather than chrome style ones to make it look more personal and less institutional.
Making The Sink Accessible
The sink should be around 32-34 inches off the floor, with a 27 inch clearance underneath it. If required, the faucets can be installed at the side for ease of reach. You can install a mirror over the sink that is tilted, extra long, or placed lower than a regular mirror. Installing low drawers near the sink could be a good idea too. Accessible storage is a must.
Making The Toilet Accessible
Two support bars around 36 inches apart should be placed either side of the toilet. Having the toilet 17 inches off the floor can make it more comfortable. You may want to install a bidet.
Lighting for the Bathroom Remodel
Having the right light in the bathroom will make it safer for the user. Even lighting should be the aim. A Decora switch with a large toggle or push button can be helpful, as well as installing lower switches.
Finding Methods of Financial Assistance for the Bathroom Remodel Project
Depending on location, you may be eligible for a grant from your local council to help fund any changes required. This usually covers a few different areas however things on the list include.
- Improving access to rooms and facilities – eg stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom
- Adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use