Tips on designing a wheelchair accessible bathroom

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When designing a wheelchair accessible bathroom there are many things to take in to consideration. You will find you need to sit down and think carefully about all aspects of the design before you start any works. The first priority in bathrooms designed for people who use wheelchairs is plenty of room for access and manoeuvring. You should start with the entrance or doorway. If your existing toilet is so close to the doorway that it doesn’t offer the space for the wheelchair to pass through, this is a problem. One idea can be to remove the sink and reverse the plumbing for use with the toilet. By moving the toilet to a new position, it can provide space to create a bigger doorway opening if necessary, therefore allowing easier access. The doorway needs to be at least 3 feet wide for the wheelchair to pass through. The bathroom door must swing outward rather than inward and should be fitted with a lever-type handle, not a knob. In small spaces, a pocket door may also be a good option.

Barrier-free bathrooms are normally larger than average. I would advise, if possible having an open area within the bathroom that's at least 5 feet in diameter to allow for easy turning. Also it is advisable to have 4 feet of clear space in front of each fixture, as well as between the sink and the toilet, if both fixtures share the same wall. These spaces also will allow room for a carer, if needed.

Specify a vanity designed for use from a wheelchair. Consider a sit-down dressing table with enough space underneath so a chair can pull in close.

The shower entrance shouldn’t have a threshold that would impede the entrance and exit of a wheelchair. Ensure the control valves and shower heads are set at  two different heights, another option is to include a handheld nozzle that can be used from a seated position. Also a built-in seat in the shower, along with a sturdy grab bar, can provide extra comfort and utility.

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The toilet may need a height adjustment, consider adding a "toilevator" below the toilet, this can add height and make the toilet level with the wheelchair for easy sideways transfers.

Other things to consider when designing your bathroom, if you are planning to have  an accessible bath you would require grab rails mounted on reinforced walls. Also you will need grab rails besides the toilet (and bidet, if there is one). You may also require temperature regulated faucets (designed to reduce the risk of scalding). The light switches must be at an accessible height and you may want a telephone in case of emergencies. Try to make sure all your decisions have been made before starting the work.

The Bathroom Makeover Company supplies and fits full wheelchair accessible bathroom units for the less-abled client. Talk to us about your requirements today for free, friendly advice.

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