Paul Bailey, Senior Product Manager at GROHE UK, discusses the need for careful design when it comes to accessible, inclusive bathrooms…
The design and features of inclusive bathrooms should be carefully considered, as it is the room where people perhaps most want to be self-sufficient to preserve dignity and save themselves from feelings of embarrassment. There are a number of ways that bathroom design can be structured in order to be accessible and ergonomic for wheelchair users or those with reduced mobility or additional needs.
The room layout should avoid narrow access ways, provide sufficient turning space for wheelchairs and walkers, while placing basins and WCs in easily accessible spots- for example, a lower wall hung basin to allow access for wheelchair users. Cleverly placed grab bars in the toilet and shower area, plus a seat in the bath or shower, can help to give people confidence to use the bathroom independently. When it comes to product specification, consider fittings with additional safety features, such as thermostatic shower controls to balance fluctuations in water temperature and pressure, as well as cool to the touch technology to ensure the outer surfaces of the mixers remain a comfortable temperature and never get too hot, eliminating the risk of scalding.
Product control is also an important factor to consider. Easy to use and intuitive functionality is imperative, such as smooth operation levers which require minimum effort to turn the water flow on and off. Infra-red touchless taps also provide a great solution, as the water flow simply starts and stops when the sensor detects hand movement. They also often come with a timer which automatically stops the water flow after a desired length of time to reduce wastage. For showers, offerings including push button control systems which simply start and stop the water by pushing a button, for straightforward use. Many products allow the user to remember their favourite settings, to avoid the process of re-setting the perfect temperature and strength of water flow each time.
In the WC area, a shower toilet provides a smart, user-friendly solution with its natural, water-only cleansing process and its wide array of customisable functions. Shower toilets use advanced technologies to minimise maintenance and cleaning, offering a perfect combination of thorough body care, ultimate hygiene and personalised comfort. Once thought of as a niche luxury, shower toilets are becoming an increasingly popular choice in bathrooms. Alternatively, opt for framed cisterns that come with an adjustable height, ensuring a comfortable toilet experience for all.
Look out for ceramic fittings that are available in various heights and models to make the best use of space. This includes full and semi-basin pedestals to rimless wall-hung, floor-standing and close-coupled WCs.