Shower areas for handicapped users have extra considerations compared to regular showers.
Showers can present significant obstacles to wheelchair users with regard to access. In the event that a person becomes handicapped, it might be necessary to remodel a shower so that it can be used by the person in a wheelchair. Considerations that need to be taken into account include space, height and accessibility aids. Does this Spark an idea?
- Assess the space that you have to work with. When remodeling a shower area, you need to consider that a wheelchair needs to be able to maneuver in and out of the shower area and, if necessary transfer to an installed shower seat, with the ability to move the wheelchair away so that it does not get wet. Another consideration with bathrooms is a door that swings inward might not be able to be closed when a wheelchair is inside the bathroom. Reversing the direction that the door swings can enable the wheelchair user to be able to close the bathroom door behind them. When remodeling, try to use a wheelchair as a tool for how much space is required.
- Model the floor area of the shower so that a wheelchair can get into it. It should be flat and not slippery for either wheelchairs or able-bodied people with ample drainage. To prevent water from spilling out over the rest of the bathroom floor, a small ridge should skirt the shower entrance to keep water contained in but still be able to maneuver a wheelchair easily. If the room where the shower is being remodeled is a “wet room,” then this ridge is not necessary.
- Create privacy for the wheelchair user. Privacy methods include installing a curtain, sliding door—leaving a space wide enough for wheelchair access—or a shower door that swings outward.
- Adapt the shower unit so that all of the shower components are within the wheelchair user’s reach. Wheelchair users should have the temperature control and taps situated at a height where they can reach, as well as the showerhead within reach from a sitting position with no stretching required. This might mean installing showerhead holders lower and possibly replacing shower units with devices with reachable controls.
- Install shower seat. This will enable the wheelchair user to transfer from the chair and shower without getting the wheelchair wet. A fold-away seat can be a better idea if the space in the shower is limited. There are a wide variety of shower seats available from disabled stores and bathroom retailers.
- Add safety bars. These should be installed at a height where a handicapped person can easily grab them in the event of a fall. They should also be positioned so that the wheelchair user can use them in transferring to and from the chair when using the shower seat.
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