Devon Disabled Bathroom Fitters describe the options available for the disabled and their bathrooms.
Bathrooms are a necessity of life -- but something most people take for granted. Wheelchair users cannot. Both residential bathrooms and commercial toilets etc in Devon have two problems in common: narrow doors and no grab bars. If the home is fairly new or the community has accessible housing standards, the walls in the tub area and the walls behind and next to the toilet should have extra blocking. Blocking is a structural reinforcement within a wall that allows a grab bar to be attached securely. Studs can be used too, but may not be located in the most desirable location.
If the sink is free-standing, install extra support under the front edge of the sink or add an "L" bracket. Disabled people throughout Devon tend to lean heavily on the sink. Countertop sinks are safer for support and access. The doors on under-sink cabinets can be removed much the same as in the kitchen. Again, remember to insulate hot water pipes.
Grab Bars for Disabled Access Bathrooms
The purpose of a grab bar is to help support a person. It must be able to support a person's weight until help arrives or the person can right him/herself. A grab bar is both pulled and pushed against. It must withstand at least 250 pounds of pressure.
The standard size for a grab bar is 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. It should be 1 1/2 inches away from the wall. A sturdy towel rod can be used if it is screwed into a stud or blocking. Make sure it does not rotate in its fittings. With some new construction, blocking is placed in the walls such that grab bars can be installed easily. If there is no blocking in the walls, it can be added. The recommended type is 3/4 inch plywood, 6 to 12 inches wide, toe-nailed (at an angle) into the studs; or a 4 by 8-inch block toe-nailed into the studs.
Heavy-duty towel racks or grab bars can be used if they are anchored securely to the wall. Grab bars come in metal or plastic and in many sizes and colours. Colours are easier to see in an emergency. Medical supply stores, plumbing fixture shops and hardware stores throughout Devon have towel racks and/or grab bars. Grab bars with a slight texture are easier to grip.
In the bathtub area, the blocking should be the full length of the tub. This allows grab bars to be installed anywhere in the area or in more than one place. The end of the tub (opposite the drain) also needs blocking. This should be the tub width.
If the disabled person can use a tub without assistance, a bath mat is a good way to prevent slipping. There also are a variety of inside-the-tub chairs and benches that can be purchased from medical supply stores. A hand-held shower attachment mounted on the wall will allow either a standing or seated person to easily use the shower. Make sure it has a 6-foot hose and controls in the handle.
The doorway of the bathroom should have a flush sill with a clear opening of 32 inches. If the doorway can be made wide enough by removing the door itself, then a curtain can be hung for privacy. A folding door is another alternative. If the house or apartment has a shower door, replace the door and the metal track with a curtain. It is difficult to transfer over a shower track.
Toilets for Disabled Access
At the toilet, the blocked areas should be behind the toilet and on at least one side. If there is no wall next to the toilet, an L-shaped grab bar can be installed by attaching the front end to the floor and the back to the wall behind the toilet. Never install grab bars at an angle.
Since the toilet is often too low for a seated person, the purchase of an elevated toilet seat may be necessary. Portable and permanent toilet seat attachments are available. Some have adjustable seat heights. There also are seats with arms and guard rails. Leave an access space between the toilet seat and the toilet for personal hygiene.
Mirrors and Storage
Another problem area may be small mirrors or high medicine cabinets. A shelf in the base cabinets or items placed on the counter can make up for not being able to reach the medicine cabinet.
The mirror on the medicine cabinet can be taken off and lowered, or a wall mirror can be used. If it cannot be lowered, it can be installed at an angle. For extra storage, add narrow shelves where space permits, and hang coated wire racks and/or baskets nearby.