How you can adapt your bathroom if you suffer with Arthritis
Here we review some of the key considerations when designing and installing bathrooms that are both safe and comfortable for users who have arthritis.
Arthritis is the biggest cause of pain and disability in the UK, according to statistics from Arthritis Research UK. It affects people of all ages and approximately 20% of the general public consults a GP about the musculoskeletal condition each year.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint.
There are two types of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis - the most common form of arthritis
There are already 10 million people in the UK who are living with some form of arthritis. However, the problem only looks set to get bigger as our population continues to increase and age rapidly, so our activity levels also start to decline.
Based on this, the need for adaptations in the home, particularly in the bathroom, is expected to increase dramatically to help promote and ensure independent living for our elderly and those with disabilities.
Previous results of the accessible housing survey reveal that people from across all of the UK are planning to install some form of accessible features in their homes in the coming years.
However, it is key to know how to create appropriate spaces that meet the various needs of those living with arthritis. Therefore, the usage of proven design guidelines whilst evaluating each element of the traditional bathroom setup will prove rewarding.
What makes a bathroom arthritis-friendly?
Mobility aids such as grab rails and bars, are a critical element of inclusive bathroom design. They should be installed alongside baths, toilets, washbasins, and in and around shower areas. The grab rails/bars used need to be strong enough for the job of supporting daily tasks and high loads. Typically, up to 100kg is adequate.
Those manufactured from high quality uPVC are a good idea as they are hygienic and easy to clean.
It is worth considering models with a fluted surface, to provide additional grip.
Walk in baths are an option, but can be expensive, so it depends on the budget that you have.
Level access wet rooms are an option as they remove any slip, trip or fall hazards for users and make the most of the space in your bathroom.
When selecting a shower it is important to consider if those with limited dexterity could use the device easily. Shower models with large, simple buttons for controlling temperature and flow are ideal.
Toilets and washbasins
Raised toilet seats are recommended to make it easier for users to get on and off the toilet.
Levers are usually the easiest toilet flush mechanism to use for those with arthritis as a firm grim is not needed.
Additionally, lever basin taps are best as they can be operated smoothly with either a hand or an arm without grip to overcome dexterity issues.
The above suggestions will help you create a safe bathroom for independent living for those who are living with arthritis.
It is essential though to remember there is not 'one size that fits all' solution for all users with musculoskeletal issues and that it is vital to assess each individuals’ needs in order to design the best outcome and living space. It is also important to gain advice from adaptation experts, who can provide guidance on your bathroom project.