If you or someone in your home is disabled or less mobile, taking steps to adapt your home can make a huge difference to your quality of life. Your bathroom is one of the key rooms to focus on. If you become less mobile either through disability, illness or aging, bathing can become more difficult, time consuming and hazardous. Bathrooms are one of the primary locations for falls due to the confined space and slippery conditions.
The good news is, with a bit of attention and careful planning, some adaptations to your bathroom can help you stay independent in your home for longer.
Is bathroom adaptation right for you?
Are any of the following statements true for you?
- You’re not able to use a conventional bath tub
- The positioning of your bathroom equipment makes it difficult to move between the bath, toilet and basin safely
- You need help when using your existing bathroom but would like to bathe independently with the help of the right equipment
- You need help in the bathroom but there’s not sufficient space for a care-provider.
If the answer is yes, and if bathing is less of a pleasure and more of a chore, it might be time to consider bathroom adaptation.
What does a disabled access bathroom look like?
The good news is that a disabled bathroom can look just as stylish and attractive as a conventional bathroom. Beyond that, the options are so varied that the layout, design and style of your bathroom will be as individual as you.
One area of consideration will be any structural changes needed. For example:
- access ramps
- widening of doorways
- moving of electrical switches and power points to suit required height
- extension for ground floor bathroom/wet room
- anti-slip flooring
- automated access doors.
There is then a wide range of specialist adaptive equipment to help you be as independent as possible, including:
- walk-in bath or wet room
- lowered sinks
- level access showers with seat
- grab rails
- assisted toilet
- easy to use lever taps or remote controlled facilities
- phone points in case of emergency.
The equipment best suited to you will depend on your individual situation.
Why it’s worth working with a specialist
Adapting your bathroom is not just a case of replacing your old bath. It’s important to assess your individual needs and understand any restrictions or complications. The majority of builders will be able to fit much of the adaptive equipment, but it’s worth seeking out a contractor that specialises in disabled adaptation as they can do much more than simply fit the equipment. They can help you design the perfect bathroom, offering advice and solutions that a builder without the same experience may not even be aware of.
Is funding available for disabled adaptation work?
Making adaptations to your home might be costly, but you may be entitled to some funding from your local authority or even a charity. What you’re entitled to will depend on your situation, location and income. In most cases, you’ll be assessed by an occupational therapist to ascertain your needs. A few things to bear in mind:
- It may take up to twelve months to find out the results of your application, but don’t be tempted to start any work before then – if you start work before the council approves your application, you might not get the grant
- You’ll still need to apply for any necessary planning permission or building regulations
- The council may ask you to employ a qualified architect or surveyor to plan and oversee the work. You can use your grant towards their fees.
You can find out more about Disabled Facilities Grants (available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on GOV.UK, or by contacting your local council. Further information about funding can be found on the Living Made Easy website.