Westpoint Building Services Pty Ltd provide custom made bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and full home remodels in the Sydney and greater Western region. We often have senior couples contact us needing senior friendly bathrooms.
One elderly couple in the city inquired regarding a bathroom renovation in Rosebay. They had watched many of the renovation shows on television. They wanted an impractical bathroom design which actually did not really suit their needs in terms of safety & functionality. Furthermore, they had been spurred on by a big renovation company coming up with ever more impractical solutions, of course, with a significant price tag. A giant quote amount for their bathroom renovation motivated them to seek more quotes.
Bathrooms Modifications for Elderly Citizens
A critical part of the design process when creating custom designs for bathrooms for the eldery is the consideration of the human factor, so often overlooked by larger companies with cookie cutter methods & solutions. We have never seen a client as a number & part of our planned growth is to consider & always stay in touch with our customer as a human being. It is part of the raison d’etre of our conduct in the industry.
Renovating Bathroom Tips for Seniors When Considering a Bathroom Renovation Sydney
The previous quote by the bathroom renovation company had suggested an industrial style frameless shower screen (without grab rails) & tiles that had no adhesion; they would have been incredibly slippery when wet, subjecting the elderly couple to a higher risk of injury.
The bathroom renovation company had a shower head coming out of the ceiling, convincing the couple that it was in style & fashionable, which would mean that the elderly couple would be looking up a lot more. One of the couple suffered from high blood pressure & was susceptible to dizzy spells & they would subsequently probably fall, injure or god forbid something worse could happen to them. I suggested a detachable shower head with a grab bar that is an anchor point attaching it. This is called a Grab Rail Shower kit. Details on this particular product are here. Btw, Sometimes a shower head is an accessory you will often see in photos for bathrooms for the eldery but in this case it was not appropriate. GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER, and treat them like a human being first.
It is not just about bathroom setups for elderly people being a crucial consideration in bathroom renovation design; you need to SPEAK with your customers & find out about them; their medical conditions, how they use spaces, their needs & then bring your own knowledge & expertise in to the equation & innovate for them.
I was quite flabbergasted by the lack of understanding & practicality of this quote. I guess they just did not ask the right questions. I also guess the salesperson did not have experience with senior bathrooms. Or empathy to consider other options during the sell-in process.
The Importance of Safety and Custom Design in Senior Friendly Bathrooms & Bathrooms for the Elderly
No where in the bathroom renovation company’s suggested design was the safety, the reality & the practical considered against a sound & contemporary design which could also be achieved & cost effectively executed, minimising spend & maximising safety while still creating a modern bathroom with resale appeal, all contemporary fixtures, design & even visual appeal. Also, most importantly, allowing this lovely couple to stay in their home for as long as they possibly can!
They could have it all, still, I told them.
Bathroom Modifications for Elderly Couples
We found ways to meet their design wants & expectations, to meet their needs, to quote for a wonderful bathroom that they loved in concept & design & practicality all within a much more comfortable budget which was significantly cheaper than the crazy high-end bathroom that would have been for a millennial couple or younger with no significant health or mobility issues.
The consultation was nearly two hours (usually our consultations are around an hour which we find is ample time to discuss a bathroom renovation). Frank wanted to spend far more time with the couple because he felt they were not treated fairly from the beginning & were not considered in a humane way. He knew professionally that the proposed works lacked a safe planning strategy for the bathroom renovation for this elderly couple.
The outcome resulted in Westpoint Building Services not actually winning the work as the couple were given a much cheaper quote. Frank was satisfied with the amount of effort he put in to the quote because at least the couple were now considering their practical safety needs & would be negotiating with any company in this light. In fact, he found out that his considerations & suggestions were used in their renovation.
When the renovation was completed the couple re-contacted Frank & thanked him for his input & all the time he had given them, even though WPBS Services did not end up doing the work.
Bathroom modifications for the elderly mean that seniors can stay in their homes as long as possible as they age… They are therefore a crucial renovation decision & getting them right by understanding the unique needs of the client is as just as important.Frank Cetinich, Director WPBS Services
Recommendations for a Senior Friendly Bathroom by Westpoint Building Services Pty Ltd
The Senior Friendly Bathroom Space – Making Bathrooms Safer
- In the middle of the bathroom there should be quite a lot of space that allows a wide turning radius of movement of a wheelchair.
- Non-slip bathroom tiles for the floor & shower. We recommend non-glazed tiles. These have a matte (flat) finish & are usually ceramic or porcelain. They can be textured also with a roughness to them. There are quite a few anti-slip coating products on the market for existing tiles if you want to keep the tiles & it is a not a full bathroom renovation.
- Ample lighting ensuring the entire space is well lit with high lumens in the light bulbs as the older someone is the more likely they may have poorer eyesight & this also reduces the risk of slip injuries.
- Storage to reduce things laying around in the bathroom which pose another trip hazard.
- Possibly consider removing the bath altogether for greater access and mobility, to claim space back in smaller bathroom footprints and also to reduce injury once again as statistics are extremely high for terrible injuries and even death in a bath for seniors.
- Paint the bathroom with matte finishes and not high gloss as the gloss will be reflective and shiny and won’t create a glare to confuse or distract.
The Fixtures & Accessories for Senior Friendly Bathroom Designs
- Walk in shower with ample room for a shower seat if/when required (with a low or no threshold entry). Install a wider door than a standard opening if possible for the shower entry allowing a wheelchair or walker. How wide you can make the door will also depend on the space of your bathroom as well, which needs to also be considered.
- A flexible handheld shower wand with an on/off button which can be used simultaneously with a shower chair (this means the shower head can be disengaged from the wall).
- Grab bars/rails on the surrounding walls & especially in the shower (two grab rails either side anchored into wall studs to sustain the weight of a human being). Towel racks should never be installed to function as a grab rail as they are not designed to hold a lot of weight like a grab bar/rail.
- Bathroom tapware should include a kip bath/shower mixer which is friendly to wrists (hot and cold turned off and on by an extended lever basin mixer & not turned with a ‘star’ grip (a cross basin tap set that has the grip like a cross). A basin mixer should be used with the vanity, all making it easy to turn water on & off. The category you find this under online is usually ‘Assisted Tapware’.
- The toilet can also be replaced with a higher, raised toilet specifically designed for differently-abled & senior citizens. Of course, there are toilet seat raisers you can buy as an accessory. These kinds of toilets are often called ‘ambulant toilets’ or ‘ambulant disability toilets’. If you are looking for these toilets in online categories you will find them under the classification ‘Toilet Assist‘ usually.
We share this on the website as it gives light to the way we conduct ourselves in business both morally & ethically as well as in the professional industrial aspects of running our company.