Adapting a family bathroom for those with limited mobility

Last year I renovated my bathroom completely, something most families may only do once every ten years, or even longer, so it’s something I had to sit down and really think about. If you’ve got a family which has older members or family members with disabilities or limited mobility, then there are quite a few more considerations to take into account. You might be planning a renovation or an adaption specifically for an older family member or someone who needs adjustments due a disability, or you might just be planning a family bathroom and want to be able to accommodate everyone. It’s good to think about the options if you have older or disabled family members who might be visiting as well.

Bath options for those with limited mobility

When buying a bath for your new bathroom, it’s worth looking at options that accommodate everyone. You might think that it’s easier for people to have a shower, but a bath is one of life’s little pleasures that I think we should all hold on to as long as possible. Until I looked into different bathroom options, I didn’t even realize that a walk in bath was possible – but you can get easy access bathtubs with a door and a seat, as well as safety handrails for getting in and out, which are perfect for the elderly or those with limited mobility. You can browse walk in baths here to see some of the options.

If you’re just adapting an existing bath then there are a wide range of ways to do this, from handrails, steps and lifts, bath seats and extra shower heads.

Shower options for the whole family

A walk in shower is a fairly common bathroom feature these days, but you can ensure that it’s suitable for everyone by adding a folding shower seat as well as safety handrails, and making sure that the shower head is reachable and adjustable by everyone. In my new bathroom we’ve gone for a wet room and the base of the shower is built into the floor, meaning there’s no step at all for anyone, which is very convenient for the whole family, from our two year old to my elderly parents in law, and for the dog too!

In fact, I think a wet room is perfect for accommodating all needs and you might be surprised at how little extra cost it adds if doing a full bathroom renovation. It means no one needs to feel self conscious about getting water outside of the bath or shower too. When we budgeted, since we were fully tiling the bathroom anyway, the only extra cost of making it a wet room was fully tanking the room before it was tiled which was an extra two days for our builder.

Your needs could be as simple as adding an integrated shower seat. Shower rails that attach to the side can always be added later as needed.

Toilet considerations

Getting up and down off the toilet can be challenging for someone with limited mobility, so you might need a lower toilet, but in many cases adapting the toilet can be as simple as adding some safety handrails. Modifying the bathroom to be accessible for elderly family members or those with disabilities doesn’t have to mean you lose style either. You can still have all the mod cons and have your personal style without sacrificing anything – just improving it.

Other things to consider

You also want to make sure that everyone can reach the sink and the worktops easily, and look at the height of a bathroom cabinet and mirror if you have one. You want the whole family, including those who are elderly or with limited mobility to be able to reach their medication. If you need to store it at a low height for them, you’ll want to make sure no children can access any medication or chemicals, so you could look into lockable drawers or cabinets to keep everyone safe.

Grab rails can be added around the bathroom to help your family member, whether it’s entering the bathroom or standing by the sink and brushing their teeth. You don’t need to be limited by wall space, as you can get grab rails that drop down from the ceiling as well, helping prevent and risk of falls and letting them be independent as much as possible.

Accessible bathroom checklist questions

Here’s an easy list of questions you can ask yourself:

  • Can they get in and out of the bath and stand up and sit down when in the bath safely?
  • Does the shower have handrails and a seat?
  • Can they get up the step into the shower?
  • Is the toilet safe, with handrails for getting up and down?
  • Can they reach the towels in the bathroom?
  • Can they use the taps and change them from hot to cold easily?
  • Is it safe to stand at the sink or worktop?
  • Can they reach medication?
  • Is medication stored in a safe way for the whole family?

You might be surprised at how easily you can make your bathroom renovation suitable for the whole family. Even if it’s not needed right now, it’s worth considering whether you might need it for family in the next decade so you can get some peace of mind that you won’t need a full renovation again any time soon.

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One thought on “Adapting a family bathroom for those with limited mobility

  1. Karen B says:

    Thank you for the article. I have been thinking about the future right now and how I think after the current situation is over I might ask my mum if she wants to move in with us as it’s going to be living with us or a care home in the next few years and care homes really don’t seem like a great option anymore. We have a downstairs bathroom and were thinking of converting the garage into a bedroom and small sitting room so she could still have her privacy but still be easy for us to check on her and spend time together every day. But it’s a lot of work so we will see how it works out.

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