5 Things to Consider When Designing an Accessible Multi-Generational Bathroom

If you’re remodelling a bathroom that’s used by the whole family and a mix of ages, you need to consider accessibility and multi-generational appliances. So, for this month's edition of our Expert Writers series, we're here to help you out!

We asked Stacey Sheppard of the award-winning home interiors blog, The Design Sheppard, to share some of her ideas on how to make a multi-generational bathroom.

Read on for some expert insight for bathroom renovation fit for all ages!

Installing a new bathroom is something that doesn’t happen all that often. It’s not as easy as redecorating a living room or bedroom. You don’t change out the bathroom suite like you would a three-piece suite.

So when designing a bathroom that you are going to have to live with for years to come, it’s important to make sure that you plan it with longevity in mind, especially given that the median cost of a bathroom renovation in 2016-17 was £3-5,000, according to the Houzz & Home UK report 2018. 

Planning for longevity doesn’t just mean ensuring that your product choices are of good quality and robust or that they won’t go out of fashion. It can also mean ensuring that they will still meet your needs in years to come. It is important to future-proof your bathroom as much as possible.

Given the fact that the UK has an ageing population, this is definitely something to consider during the design stage. According to the Age UK Later Life report, which was released in 2019, it is estimated that almost 12 million people in the UK are aged 65 and over and one-third of all households in England are headed by someone aged 65 and over.

As we age and our mobility decreases, it can become a real challenge to use the bathroom safely. There are a number of steps that we can take to make sure that our bathrooms are as accessible as possible for all members of the family, regardless of their age.

Grab Rails

According to the NHS, around 1-in-3 adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year. Given that bathrooms are particularly slippery areas of the home, they do pose a risk to older family members. The addition of grab rails near toilets, bathtubs, basins and in showers provides extra support to prevent slips and falls. However, they can also prove to be a useful addition for young children who may not yet be steady on their feet.

Walk-in Showers or Wetrooms

Trips and falls are also a major hazard when it comes to showering. Reduced mobility may make it difficult for older family members to step up into a shower bath or even to step into a raised shower tray. If possible, it is a safer option to install a wetroom so that there is no step up to access the shower. If this isn’t possible, then a wetroom shower tray or a low-profile shower tray are good alternatives.

Comfort Height Toilets

Comfort height toilets have the added benefit of being that bit taller than a standard toilet. This is particularly well suited to older people with restricted mobility as they involve less effort to sit down on and less effort to stand back up.

Digital Showers

Digital showers function just like a mixer shower but have the added benefit of temperature setting options at the touch of a button. The controls are easy to use with no twisting or fine-tuning of dials. Built-in safety features ensure a reliable, consistent temperature with the ability to set a maximum temperature to keep children and older family members safe from accidental burns and scalds.

Lever-style Taps

As we age, conditions like arthritis can become an issue making it difficult for older people to grip and turn knobs in the bathroom. Likewise, the small hands of tiny children often struggle with this. Therefore, round head and cross head bathroom taps are best avoided. Instead, choose taps that are operated by a lever so that dexterity of the hands is no longer an issue and a tap can be operated by nudging a lever with a wrist if necessary. In fact, this is also more hygienic so that’s another benefit.

By planning for the future, and considering all the members of the family that will use the bathroom, you can reduce the need to make adaptations down the line and ensure that your financial investment is protected for longer.

If you found this post useful, you may also like - Designing an Accessible Bathroom - Designing a Family Bathroom - His and Hers Bathroom Ideas.

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