When it comes to upgrading the bathroom to provide assistance when mobility is starting to decline, we’re often asked which is the best solution between a walk-in bath, an easy access shower or a wet room?
There is no one answer, as each comes with its own advantages, and disadvantages, and the solution we recommend is often dependent on many factors including mobility levels (now and into the future), suitability of the bathroom and budget.
Here we provide an overview of each accessible bathing solution to give you an idea of which is best suited for your circumstances.
All walk-in baths have a door to enable easy access and reduce the step height of the bath to around 8-9 inches once installed. This removes the risk of slips and trips as it allows the user to step in and out of the bath through the door, rather than having to balance on one leg whilst trying to lift the other over the side of the bath.
Three distinct types of walk-in baths are available.
- A full length bath with no seat that looks like a standard bath.
- An upgrade from this is a full length walk-in bath with a power seat to provide assistance with getting up and down in the bath.
- Alternatively, a short length tub style walk-in bath with a fixed seat inside can be easier to access as the user only has to get up and down from a seated position.
The great benefit of a walk-in bath is that it enables people who find a standard bath difficult to access to continue to enjoy a bath. That said, the bather will require a reasonable level of mobility as there is still a step to negotiate. The motion of manoeuvring in and out of the bath, dropping the plugs in and operating the taps also requires a level of dexterity.
Easy Access Showers
Whilst many people enjoy a bath, just as many people enjoy a shower so individual preference can play a part in deciding between a walk-in bath or shower. However, people with reduced mobility will find a shower a lot easier to access than a standard bath and sometimes even a walk-in bath.
Individuals who prefer a bath, may be better off accepting that a bath is no longer safe and suitable and it is time to upgrade to a shower.
With easy access showers (also referred to as walk in showers), the step height of the shower tray can be reduced to around 40mm. It’s also possible to install level access showers, with no step negotiate, depending on site. Shower trays can also support wheeled access should this be required. This kind of step free or reduced step access is so much easier to access than a standard bath or walk-in bath and has little to no risk of tripping.
In addition, shower screens and doors can be made in such a way that they offer good wide access points. Grab rails can be placed in convenient spots within the shower enclosure to provide a firm hand hold when entering and exiting the shower. Whilst adding a shower seat provides extra help for those with difficulty standing for a length a time.
As much as possible, a shower can be designed around the specific needs of the end user and can include half height shower doors for carer assisted showering, should this be required now or in future.
A wet room will suit a user who can no longer use a bath or shower area with ease. It creates a larger shower area than a traditional shower enclosure and is particularly suited to wheelchair access. This type of solution supports carer assisted showering and is often the better option where a carer is involved.
If required, shower doors can be done away with altogether to provide obstruction free entry and exit. However, a shower curtain is advisable for privacy when needed, and to help keep the spread of water to a minimum.
As well as ease of bathing, many people opt for a wet room as it provides a more pleasing aesthetic appearance and can enhance the value of a property. It is also more suitable for use by people with a wide range of mobility. Where a person’s mobility may reduce in future the wet room is a good future proofed option.
The above advice provides a broad overview of what may be suitable for your level of mobility. Of course, it’s just an overview and should not be considered as advice specific to your individual circumstances. If you’d like to explore your options further, or arrange a home consultation to offer guidance and a quotation tailored to your specific needs, please get in touch with Absolute Mobility on 0141 411 041.12 March,2018