Statistics show 25% of households
with a disabled person
need a home adaptation.
Bathrooms are the most common form of home adaptation, with 20% of
disabled people in private households using them. Some 500,000 households
with no adaptations say they needed either a special toilet seat or other aid
to use the toilet; a further 200,000+ that already had some adaptations
specified provision of an additional toilet , relocation of an existing WC or
aids to use a toilet as a requirement they now deemed necessary (English
Housing Survey 2012).
Yet only 12% of properties meet the four key features of accessibility- level
access, flush threshold, wide doors and circulations areas and use of a toilet
on the ground or entry floor (English Housing Survey Homes Report 2011).
Imrie and Hall (2001) identify that when design professionals such as
architects or interior designers incorporate disabled people’s needs into
projects there can be a tendency to reduce disability to a singular form of
mobility impairment, that of a wheelchair user. We can often become fixated
with the physical environment and forget about other aspects that contribute
to making a bathroom inclusive.
Research shows that most adaptations ‘pay’ for themselves within a year.
Domestic bathrooms are often small, making them difficult to adapt to the
ideal. Before any adaptation is undertaken due consideration should be given
to disruption and practicality, now – and in the future, for the primary user
and any other members of the household. For example, a first floor or above
flat having a bath replaced by a shower will need the shower tray to be
recessed, to create a level access for optimum ‘lifetime’ suitability. It may be
necessary to install a pump to ensure adequate drainage. NB It may not be
always possible to create a level access because of the construction
technique originally used. Further, sufficient space should be provided so that
the user can conveniently use the bathroom and gain side access to the WC.
Individual considerations: toilet
●Should the WC be conventional, have a bolt-on wash unit or an automatic
shower (wash and dry) toilet.
●The types of controls required for the individual/carer to use
●The accessories to enable the individual to use the WC independently
●The compatibility of additional toilet aids eg shower chairs, lifting devices,
stand aids etc
●Consider the compatability of the shower chair with the toilet: it needs to
fit over the WC, and, if a bolt-on unit or automatic shower toilet, care
needs to be taken to ensure the douche is still in the correct position to
●Consider the location of the toilet to enable easy access, especially if
transferring from a wheelchair or using a frame or support system. If an
automatic shower (wash and dry) toilet is included, it is recommended
that it be fitted with an appropriate RCD. It is NOT recommended that
the user showers whilst sat on the automatic shower toilet.
Individual considerations: wetroom
Note: the considerations relevant to a separate toilet also apply to a wetroom
with WC within.
●Replacement of a bath with a shower delivers more useable space within
the bathroom, facilitating manoeuvrability
●Whether the individual has tried a shower before and can tolerate the
●Is the shower to be used independently or with support from a carer?
●Users with limited mobility and/or sensitive skin may benefit from a body
●In the shower, what type of seating is required and whether this it should
be wall- mounted, static or height adjustable, or a wheeled shower chair
●Consider the overall size and design of the shower area to facilitate
independent use and to accommodate any further equipment or carers. In
some instances, where an existing bathroom is being altered, useable space
may be acquired by the reconfiguration of door openings etc.
Environment design considerations
●Consider the layout primarily in relation to:
–Ease of access to existing plumbing services
–Location of window to ensure privacy
–Location of a shower away from doors to avoid any overspill of water
–Location of wash hand basin and toilet facilities.
●Check the height requirement of the seat/shower chair. Shower chairs
vary dramatically from being freestanding to wall mounted, padded or not
●Consider the location of the shower controls and showerhead. In most
cases people often find having these located to the side of them easiest to
access from a seated position.
●Think about other features such as a shower curtain or shower screen,
particularly if a carer needs to assist.
Statistics show 25% of households