Bathing can be a time of anxiety for those who are disabled or aging. Caregivers face challenges as well due to safety issues in the bathroom. Bathtubs and showers can be slippery environments with hard surfaces and sharp corners. For those in wheelchairs, the transfer process can be difficult and has the potential for falls and other injuries. Can you imagine not being able to relax and enjoy the luxury of taking a shower or bath?
United Disabilities Services is now offering a Caregiver Half-Height Door for showers that allows a caregiver to assist the user in showering or bathing, while controlling water and keeping the caregiver dry.
The Caregiver Half-Height doors create a water barrier, once closed, ensuring that no water runs out of the shower. This helps to control water splash on both the floor and the caregiver, and keeps the surrounding area safer.
When opened, the Caregiver Half-Height doors allow full access to roll-in showers, walk-in showers and full barrier-free showers. The Half-Height doors are easy to install and can be used with most shower units.
Caregivers who have used the Half-Height doors are grateful to have a product that allows for easier care for their loved one and for the ability to stay dry in the process. The safety of dry floors and surfaces is also an important element for their consideration.
The transfer process in and out of the shower or bath can be made easier with the installation of grab bars. The UDS eStore carries a line of carefully chosen grab bars that are fully functional and aesthetically pleasing as well.
The UDS eStore offers carefully chosen product offerings, gives contractor discounts, has trained field technicians available for advice, will give design consultations and offers good prices that are tax free. United Disabilities Services has years of experience in helping the disabled, veterans and those aging in place to create individualized design solutions for home modifications. Products can be found at estore.udservices.org or call 888.428.0240 to speak with the UDS Home Modifications team.
Your home modification needs for achieving accessibility may be as simple as the use of grab bars or a shower seat; or you may have more complex requirements which involve a complete shower or bathtub replacement. We recommend discussing specific needs with a qualified contractor and using the following checklist to identify the appropriate products available:
This roll-in shower makes accommodating a wheelchair a breeze.
Specific bathroom items:
- Swing-out doors
- Non-slip floors
- Grab bars
- Reinforced walls, i.e., ¾” plywood backing throughout, for installation of grab bars
- 5” square clear area (required for most wheelchair users to make a 360⁰ turn). Since many wheelchair users can function in smaller areas, measure exact clear floor space if less than 5’.
- Chair-height racks/shelves/cabinets
- Lever handled faucets
- Lowered or tilted mirror
- Roll-under vanity top
- Hinged, fold-down seat in shower
- Roll-in shower with no curb
- Hand-held or adjustable shower head
- Bathtub with non-skid strips or surface
- Half-height caregiver doors
- Toilet seat 17” – 19” from floor, or wall mounted toilet
- Telephone outlet
- A ground level entrance clear of any major obstructions that would accept a ramp with a slope no greater than 1” height per 12” in length.
- At least one large bathroom with a 32” clear door opening and clear 5’ X 5’ floor turnaround space
- Wide doorways (32” – 36” clear width)
- Wide hallways (42” – 60”)
- Low-pile carpeting with thin padding or smooth surfaces
- Chair-height (48” – 54”) doorbell/mailbox
- Chair-height electrical controls/outlets (excluding the kitchen, generally controls are 6” lower and outlets are 6” higher than standard)
- Chair-height push button telephones/jacks
- Accessible, easily operated window controls, i.e., slide to side can be opened with one hand or less than 8 pounds of pressure, located 24” – 28” from floor
- Audio and visual smoke detectors
- Large windows, overhead lighting or several electrical outlets in each room (lighting is a big consideration for persons with low vision)
When engaging a contractor to make home modifications, consumers should check their references and look for specific home modification experience. A contractor who is certified in home modifications is the best selection for an accessibility solution.
UDS offers solutions that have been evaluated by the UDS team for use in home modifications. Visit the eStore at https://estore.udservices.org.
The products offered on our eStore focus primarily on bathroom modifications and include shower seats, grab bars, open showers, wet room systems, water containment products, home modification showers, shower pans and half-height caregiver doors. These products will allow for wheelchairs to roll into the shower without any accessibility issues and can facilitate easy transfers in and out of the shower or tub.
Grab bars can be especially important in allowing people to maintain independence and privacy in the bathroom. The UDS eStore has a wide range of grab bars available which also make a bathroom safer when transferring in and out of the bathtub or shower.
The stylish Invisia Collection offers an Accent Ring, Corner Seat, Corner Shelf, Soap Dish, Toilet Roll Holder, and Towel Bars – all with Integrated Support Rail. There is also a BathBench which rests across the tub and can double as a bath caddy. Or, select from Moen’s Curl Grip Grab Bars in three beautiful finishes. There are also Swing-Up Grab Bars and a number of different Super Poles that can be used in different areas around the home when no wall is available for a traditional grab bar.
Invisia Towel Bar with Integrated Rail Support
Invisia Soap Dish with Integrated Support Rail
An experienced and certified home modifications contractor will be able to make recommendations from these product selections and will know how to install all of the products offered on the UDS eStore. Whether you need simple grab bars or shower seats or more complex modification solutions, we can help you identify what you’ll need.
Visit our eStore to shop all of the above products.
Sometimes changes in life, whether due to aging, dealing with a progressive disease, or an unfortunate accident, force people to make major adjustments in their lives and their homes. No matter the cause, there are modifications that need to be made to a home in order to facilitate daily living when these changes occur.
Home modification should begin with a home assessment. Look for a contractor certified in Universal Design who will come to your home and perform a needs assessment. The first visit should be free and is required before an estimate can be given to you for review or approval. Your contractor should be capable in assessing your complete living needs; from your garage to kitchen to bathroom. Ramps or lifts may also be needed, so an experienced home modification contractor will readily recognize your unique needs and will be key to the success of your project. The contractor will also determine if walls need to be moved, if electrical and plumbing changes are required and, in the case of a large project, whether building permits are needed. In addition, an experienced contractor will have a thorough knowledge of accessibility products.
Many experienced home modifications contractors use products from the United Disabilities Services eStore. The UDS Home Modifications Division uses these selections in the projects they install in the Southcentral PA area. The Home Modifications Team has vetted all of the products and recommends them for Universal Design projects. In addition, the UDS eStore has trained field technicians available for advice. They will also give design consultations and offer contractor discounts that are tax free. Products can be found at http://estore.udservices.org.
- Wet Room Systems: A wet room is a fully water tight bathroom with a “walk-in” shower area that is usually level with the surrounding floor, but with a slight slope to the drain which is fitted directly into the floor. Wet rooms typically have tiled walls and floors and the shower section is usually partitioned off with glass walls and a glass shower door. Wet rooms are particularly useful where level entry to the shower area is essential – for instance, for use by someone in a wheelchair. A wet room is more versatile than a conventional shower, which would typically have a raised entrance into the shower. The wet room tray and enclosure provides ease of accessibility and also gives additional options in bathroom design.
- Barrier Free Showers: Selected for their ease of installation, a strong structural base and integrated wood backing, barrier-free showers are ideal for both residential and commercial use for the disabled and those aging in place. A well-designed barrier free shower minimizes the chances of being installed in a non-barrier free manner, having grab bars installed without proper backing, and also reduces installation costs by installing directly on floor joists, sub-flooring and concrete surface.
- Roll-In Showers: A well designed walk-in shower can be easily installed and can make a shower much more accessible for those in wheelchairs. Roll-in showers are designed so there is no need to step up or step over a barrier at the entrance to the shower. Selected for it roll-in design, ease of installation, structural base and integrated wood backing, walk-in showers can be used for residential or commercial purposes. The design minimizes the chances of being installed in a non-accessible manner or having grab bars installed without proper backing.
- Doored Bathtubs: A premier bariatric bathing system for easy transition in and out of the tub, doored bathtubs are a solution for those with size and weight mobility issues. Doored bathtubs can be built-in or have free-standing side access. These tubs have a low threshold door to enable easy entry and exit, with or without a transfer device. With its full front and side panels, it can be installed either against a wall or in a corner. With the contoured interior, a bather can sit comfortably in a slightly reclined position. Carefully designed, they accommodate the user without sacrificing installation space and look polished in homes and institutions.
- Accessories: Grab Bars and Shower Seats: A simple solution for balance and stability, grab bars are one of the easiest ways to provide support and balance in the bathroom area for anyone with mobility issues. They can be useful almost anywhere in the bathroom, for getting on and off the toilet, for moving into and out of the tub, for stability in the shower or at the sink, or as handrails for navigation about the space. A wide variety of grab bars are available, from standard wall mounted grab bars, swing up grab bars or pole grab bars. Shower seats or shower chairs are designed for anyone who is wheelchair-bound or for those who find it difficult to stand for periods of time. They are wall mounted and come in a variety of sizes and shapes to provide a sense of security in the shower. Many varieties of shower seats are available and can fit the decor of a bathroom remodeling project.
United Disabilities Services has been assisting with home modifications for the disabled, veterans and those aging in place for many years and offers extensive expertise and experience in the home modifications field. Visit the UDS eStore for products that have been evaluated by the UDS team for use in home modifications.
Independence in the bathroom is one of the most daunting tasks for accessibility and safety in the home. No matter the disability, the bathroom is almost always one of the most challenging rooms in which to maneuver. It’s difficult to feel at home, much less feel safe, if you don’t have secure access in your own bathroom.
Achieving safety and independence with bathroom modifications is possible with the right products, but there are added benefits as well. For example:
- Customization: Modifying a bathroom is, by definition, a very individualized project. It includes making alterations to a living space to meet the needs of physical limitations or aging needs in order to live more independently. A customized bathroom space will depend on an individual’s needs, preferences, and space available.
- Aesthetics: Accessibility doesn’t mean stark or institutional. An accessible bathroom can be as beautiful and luxurious as you imagine it to be. Beautiful tile, stylish sinks and modern fixtures don’t have to be sacrificed and can easily accommodate accessibility, independence and safety.
- Safety: True accessible modifications are primarily focused on altering spaces for safe movement and creating a safe flow. Safety can range from something as simple as strategically placing a grab bar for balance to completing a full bathroom remodel.
Next time, we’ll discuss the many elegant options available that can lend design pizzazz to an accessible bathroom remodeling project. Visit the UDS eStore at https://estore.udservices.org/.
Find a contractor who’s willing to listen and provide a home modification tailored to your specific needs. Home accessibility is a specialized niche within the design and construction fields and while many reputable and skilled contractors are now entering the growing ‘aging in place’ market, they may not understand your physical and functional needs as well as they understand construction. It is vital that you educate them on your needs and play an active role in the design process.
Consider visiting the National Association of Home Builders at nahb.org and searching their CAPS Directory to find a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist in your area who is familiar with performing accessibility design or construction work, as well as being evaluated by an Occupational or Physical Therapist who can provide a report on functional considerations that must be taken into account when creating design solutions, such as an individual’s safest method of transfer. Oftentimes, combining the design and construction expertise of an experienced contractor with the disability-specific knowledge of a trusted medical professional can yield better individualized solutions.
And, don’t forget to reach out to the Accessibility Specialists at UDS Accessible Home Modifications for expert tips and guidance! UDS has been working directly with people with disabilities to support their independence since 1965 and we are happy to put our experience to work for you, from initial product selection though construction troubleshooting. Just contact us at 888-428-0240 or firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how we can best serve you.