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Plumbing Equipment for Disabled People

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 5 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Plumbing Equipment For Disabled People

If part of the reason for doing a household renovation is to make it easier for a disabled or elderly person to access all areas of the home then plumbing equipment is one of the areas that will need a lot of thought. There's a wide variety of equipment that can go into bathrooms and toilets to make them easier for everyone to use.

Try Simple Remedies Before Going For Specialist Equipment

There are quite a few things that can be done without having to buy extra or different equipment, depending on the capabilities of the people in the household. Bending and reaching for things can often be a problem for disabled or elderly people so one example is raising the height of toilets, perhaps just by building a plinth of bricks or building blocks and cementing it in place. This of course means raising the soil pipe as well so working this into a renovation is the right time to do jobs like this.

You have to work with the people who are going to access the facilities so do test runs before you put anything in place permanently. You might need to keep a range of heights too, perhaps if there are young children in the house as well, so keeping one toilet at the standard height might be a good idea. Handrails and grabrails at various heights around the bathroom can be a godsend too.

There's plenty of inexpensive equipment that can make using the bathroom easier like having long levers on taps. There are also replacement taps that have a very sensitive action; just a quarter of a turn from closed to full on. These can take a bit of practice to get used to though, even for the able-bodied members of the household.

Bath or Shower?

If you are renovating to improve access for someone who is more profoundly disabled then you will need to look at baths and shower equipment with more access options than the standard offerings. Obviously the size and shape of your bathroom may dictate your options here.

Showers are often easier all round for disabled people, particular if a seat can be incorporated into the shower unit. There's better access and more flexibility with a shower than a bath, and plastic seats that fold up out of the way when not required are not particularly expensive.

Then of course there are the welcome therapeutic properties of soaking in a hot bath to consider. All in one bath/shower units can help here and many of them aren't much bigger than a straight bath. There are also a number of different specialist equipment suppliers that offer lifts and slings that can fit over a conventional bath. This is likely to be cheaper than a replacement bath or shower.

Walk-in Baths Have Excellent Access

A relatively recent arrival on the disabled bathroom products scene is the walk-in bath, which has a door on the side, making it easier for people to get in and out. Many of these also have a seat which can be lowered at the press of a button, making it easier for people to lie back and then get up again, but this may well need an electrical connection.

This makes installation a little trickier and more expensive, as you'll have to get an electrician in. That could be an issue if you are trying to do the bulk of the renovation yourself. If you don’t want to get involved with electricity in the bathroom then you'll be restricted to a fixed seat or no seat, but then that may be enough for your needs.

Find Equipment and Suppliers Through Charities

If you're embarking on a renovation project and accessible plumbing equipment is on your list of things to look for then there's a lot of information available from charities that cater for the particular disabilities concerned. So don’t be afraid to ask them for leaflets and lists of equipment suppliers, they are there to help.

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