Occupational Therapy Advice and Information
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Product suggestions for a dementia free bathroom:
- Choose a thermostatic care shower to guarantee a safe and stable temperature and ideally choose a shower with easy to use and familiar controls.
- Ensure the shower has an adjustable flow as skin can become hyper-sensitive.
- To avoid accidental flooding (if a shower is left running), ideally choose a shower that automatically shuts-down after 30 minutes use.
- Avoid overhead deluge shower heads as these can be frightening. It helps if a dementia sufferer can see where water is coming from and that they can control its flow.
- Ensure the shower has controls that are visible against the shower body – i.e. the controls should be a contrasting colour.
- Choose a different colour toilet seat to the pan and cistern so the user can easily locate it.
- Choose familiar looking tap controls and toilet flush levers.
- Avoid push button or infra-red flush controls as these can cause confusion, unless they already installed and You are familiar with them.
- Make sure that the toilet roll holder is a contrasting colour to the wall so it can be easily seen.
- Avoid the use of hidden cisterns.
- Ensure the basin is big enough to accommodate toothbrush mug, toothpaste tube and soap.
- Ideally position the toilet so that it can be seen from the bed – this will act as a reminder and also enable them to access it easily, especially if they are drowsy during the night.
- Consider using flood-proof plugs that pop-up if the basin overfills or don’t use a plug at all.
- There is a unique bath and sink safety plug available on the market that reduces the risk of scalding and flooding using a pressure activated system. When an unattended bath reaches a certain depth, the pressure plate opens and releases excess water down the plughole to prevent flooding. When the desired level is reached, the pressure plate will close again leaving a filled bath.
- This safety plug will change colour between 32 – 41 degrees Celsius as a warning that the water may be too hot. It is ideal for anyone likely to forget to turn off the taps and attaches easily to the existing plug chain.
- They can be purchased for baths, bathroom basins and kitchen sinks. (NRS Healthcare).
- Use shelves rather than cupboards so that items can be easily found.
- Avoid low level furniture that can be fallen against.
- Avoid patterns and three dimensional representation of objects because these can cause visual confusion.
- Avoid white tiles as these can be seen as being clinical and not homely.
- Dementia sufferers become more sensitive to glare from lights, so maximise natural light where possible.
- Install at least two lights that are positioned to avoid shadows.
- Install task lighting e.g. over the basin, shower and toilet.
- Ideally choose PET plastic safety screens not safety glass. This is because, as a softer material, they reduce the likelihood of impact injury should they be fallen against.
- Choose a frosted screen as these don’t show the reflections that can frighten someone with dementia; making them think that someone else is in the bathroom with them. The added advantage of a frosted screen is that it offers greater dignity if the Carer needs to stay in the room.
- Choose shower curtains that are a different colour to the walls and the floor. This creates a clearly recognisable showering area. If the bathroom user is susceptible to falls then ensure the shower curtain fabric is breathable to avoid the danger of suffocation if the curtains are pulled down in a fall.
- Avoid flooring that contrasts in tone with flooring in the adjoining bedrooms or corridors, because the colour change can be perceived as a step, which could result in falls at the threshold.
- Ensure that the bathroom floor is a single colour. Avoid the use of level access trays as a person with dementia may assume the colour change means there is a step up or down and this can lead to falls. The safest solution is a wet room that is fully tiled or has safety flooring.
- Remove all mats within the shower/bathroom as these can be a trip-hazard.
- Avoid very dark coloured flooring as this can look like a large hole, discouraging a dementia suffer from stepping onto it.
- Flooring should be plain and non-reflective. Avoid flecks and speckles in the flooring because these can cause confusion as it may make the floor look like there are crumbs or dirt on it and this can lead to falls if the user tries to ‘pick them up’.
- Avoid a shiny floor surface as this can give the appearance of being wet.
- The floor colour must clearly contrast with the walls and sanitary ware.
- Provide extra heating as tasks take longer to complete.
- Consider using LST (low surface temperature) radiators or underfloor heating; but don’t leave exposed pipework as this can get extremely hot.
- If the person is more prone to fall, consider installing under-floor heating so there is no radiator to fall against.
- It may be necessary to remove the bathroom door lock, or replace it with a lock that can be opened from the outside.
- Someone with dementia may lock themselves in and panic or they may fall and a locked door may delay the Carer being able to reach them.
- The door to the bathroom should open outwards in case the person falls against it from the inside, therefore blocking entry.
- Ensure that door into the bathroom contrasts with the walls on both sides.
- Use signs on the bathroom door that include words and pictures to provide prompts for the role of the room – some people may recognise the word and others may recognise the picture.
Product guide – choosing the right products for your dementia-friendly bathroom
Toilets & Basins
Shower Screens & Curtains:
Doors, Locks & Signage