An assisted bathroom is a bathroom that is designed to accommodate the needs of people who require extra assistance or care when using the bathroom. An assisted bathroom can be beneficial for people with disabilities, mobility issues, aging, or chronic conditions. An assisted bathroom can also make it easier and safer for caregivers to help their clients or loved ones with their daily hygiene and personal care.
An assisted bathroom can vary in size, layout, and features depending on the specific needs and preferences of the user and the caregiver. However, there are some general principles and tips that can help you design an assisted bathroom that is functional, comfortable, and accessible. Here are some of them:
What is an Assisted Bathroom, and Who Benefits from it?
An assisted bathroom is a bathroom that is designed to accommodate the needs of individuals who require extra assistance or care when using the facilities. It is specifically tailored to provide accessibility, safety, and convenience for people with disabilities, mobility issues, aging-related challenges, or chronic conditions.
The following individuals can benefit from an assisted bathroom:
- People with Disabilities: An assisted bathroom ensures that individuals with physical disabilities have the necessary features and adaptations to maneuver, access amenities, and maintain personal hygiene independently or with minimal assistance. It can include modifications like grab bars, widened doorways, accessible sinks, and toilets with appropriate height adjustments.
- Individuals with Mobility Issues: Older adults or individuals with temporary injuries or conditions that affect their mobility can benefit from an assisted bathroom. Features such as grab bars, non-slip flooring, and walk-in Bathtub with level entry make it easier and safer for them to navigate the bathroom space and perform daily activities.
- Caregivers: Assisted bathrooms also benefit caregivers who assist individuals with their personal care routines. The design considerations, such as wider doorways and spacious layouts, allow caregivers to maneuver and provide assistance comfortably. Additionally, features like accessible sinks and toilets reduce the physical strain on caregivers during tasks like bathing and toileting.
- Aging Population: As individuals age, they may experience reduced mobility, balance issues, or other age-related challenges. An assisted bathroom promotes independence and safety by incorporating features that cater to their changing needs. This includes elements like handrails, seated showers, and anti-slip surfaces.
- Individuals with Chronic Conditions: People with chronic conditions, such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis, may face difficulties in performing daily bathroom activities. An assisted bathroom can be customized to accommodate their specific needs, providing features like hand-held showerheads, raised toilets, and adaptive equipment to support their comfort and independence.
How To Design An Assisted Bathroom?
1. Bathroom Entry
The bathroom entry should be wide enough to allow easy access for a wheelchair, a walker, or a zimmer frame. A standard wheelchair is 24-27 inches (approx. 600-690 mm) wide, so the bathroom door should be at least 32 inches (815 mm) wide, but ideally 36 inches (915 mm) wide. The extra space allows for easy access for a wheelchair, especially if the door is accessed from a hallway, and you’ll have to turn the wheelchair to enter. Additionally, a completely flat floor at the entry is best so that the wheelchair does not have to roll over a threshold or door sill.
2. Important Room Dimensions
The bathroom should have enough space to allow for circulation and maneuverability for both the user and the caregiver. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which among other things, provides design standards to help people with disabilities, suggests turning spaces be 60 inches (1525 mm) in diameter. You may notice a circular wheelchair symbol on floor plans for accessible units. The symbol demonstrates the clearance needed to turn the wheelchair.
In addition to the wheelchair circle, the floor plan example above also shows (in blue) the suggested space around the toilet for accessibility – a minimum 60-inch width space measured from the sidewall and a 56-inch space measured from the rear wall.
3. Accessible Sink Area
To allow a wheelchair user to roll directly up to the sink, choose a design that has either a slant or nothing directly underneath the sink. A pedestal sink is another possible choice. To make it easier to turn on the water, consider a long, single handle on the sink faucet. Above the sink, a tilted mirror that is slightly angled down allows the wheelchair user to see themselves more easily. And rather than a medicine cabinet behind the sink, which could be hard to reach, consider having lower drawers for storage or a lower medicine cabinet placed in an accessible location.
4. Extra Space Around Toilet
As mentioned above, it is recommended to leave a space on one side of the toilet to be able to move the wheelchair close, and for those requiring transfer assistance. Grab bars near the toilet can also be helpful. A “comfort height” (taller) toilet may be easier to use and a bidet can also be helpful. Finally, consider where the flush controls are for these devices. Make sure that they are in a location that will be easy for the user.
5. Flat and Wide Shower Entry
An accessible bathroom often includes a shower rather than a bathtub, for easier access and safety. A flat and wide shower entry allows for wheel-in, Walk-in, or zimmer-in access without any lips or steps.
- A shower seat or bench can also provide comfort and stability for the user.
- A handheld shower head can offer more flexibility and control over the water flow and direction.
- A thermostatic valve can prevent scalding by regulating the water temperature.
- Grab bars and non-slip mats can also enhance safety and prevent falls.
6. Lighting and Ventilation
Lighting and ventilation are important aspects of any bathroom design, but especially for an assisted bathroom. Good lighting can improve visibility and safety, as well as create a pleasant atmosphere. You can use natural light from windows or skylights, as well as artificial light from ceiling lights, wall lights, or task lights. You can also use dimmers or sensors to adjust the brightness and save energy.
Ventilation can prevent moisture buildup and mold growth, as well as improve air quality and comfort. You can use windows or fans to ventilate your bathroom. You can also use dehumidifiers or heaters to control humidity and temperature.
7. Flooring and Wall Materials
Flooring and wall materials are also crucial for an assisted bathroom design. You want to choose materials that are durable, easy to clean, and slip-resistant. Some of the best options are ceramic tile, vinyl, rubber, or cork. You can also use rugs or mats with non-slip backing or adhesive strips to add extra traction and comfort. For wall materials, you want to choose materials that are waterproof,mold-resistant, and easy to maintain. Some of the best options are ceramic tile,
glass, acrylic, or fiberglass. You can also use paint or wallpaper that is specially designed for bathrooms and has antimicrobial properties.
8. Storage and Accessories
Storage and accessories are the final touches that can make your assisted bathroom more functional and comfortable. You want to have enough storage space for your toiletries, towels, and other essentials, but also make sure they are accessible and organized. You can use cabinets, shelves, drawers, baskets, or hooks to store your items. You can also use labels, dividers, or containers to sort them.
Accessories are the items that can add style and personality to your assisted bathroom. You can use mirrors, art, plants, candles, or other decorative items to create a cozy and inviting space. You can also use soap dispensers, toothbrush holders, tissue boxes, or other practical items to make your bathroom more convenient.
These are some of the tips on how to design an assisted bathroom that is suitable for simultaneous end user and caregiver use. For more information and inspiration,
you can check out these websites:
- RoomSketcher: A website that offers online tools and resources for designing your accessible bathroom.
- More Ability: A website that offers design ideas and solutions for assisted bathrooms.
- Live in Place Designs: A website that offers a guide to remodeling a handicap bathroom.
- RoomSketcher Blog: A blog that offers design tips and examples for assisted living – one-bedroom apartment design ideas.
By following these principles and tips, you can create an assisted bathroom that not only meets accessibility requirements but also fosters independence, convenience, and a sense of well-being for individuals with diverse abilities and their caregivers.
The bathroom entry should be at least 36 inches wide to ensure easy access for a wheelchair.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) suggests turning spaces of 60 inches in diameter to accommodate wheelchairs.
An accessible sink area should have a design that allows a wheelchair user to roll underneath, a single-handle faucet, and a tilted mirror for better visibility.
Extra space around the toilet allows for wheelchair access and transfer assistance, making it more convenient and safer for users.
A flat and wide shower entry ensures easy access for wheelchairs and mobility aids, reducing the risk of accidents and enhancing user comfort.
Good lighting improves visibility, safety, and creates a pleasant atmosphere. It’s especially crucial for users with visual impairments.
Ventilation prevents moisture buildup, mold growth, and enhances air quality and comfort for users.
Durable, slip-resistant options like ceramic tile, vinyl, rubber, or cork are ideal for flooring. For walls, choose waterproof and mold-resistant materials like ceramic tile, glass, acrylic, or fiberglass.
You can add a personal touch by incorporating decorative elements like mirrors, art, plants, and accessories such as soap dispensers and toothbrush holders. Ensure that these items are placed within reach and do not compromise accessibility.