Occupational Therapy Advice and Information
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Designing a shower facility:
- Provide the most suitable size of showering area:
- Ensure that this will fully meet your needs both now and in the foreseeable future but never install anything that is less than 1000 mm x 1000 mm (1 m. sq.) or equivalent i.e. 1300 mm x 800 mm (1.04 m. sq.) so that should you need equipment in the future, even though you are at present mobile, there is adequate space to provide something suitable.
- If you are already using walking equipment and/or a wheelchair then ensure that the size of showering area provided is no less than 1300 x 820 mm (1.06 m. sq.), as a bare minimum, or 1500 mm x 900 mm (1.35 m. sq.) and, where possible, ideally 1200 mm x 1200 mm (1.44 m. sq.).
- Within the design of the showering area of the bathroom – if you require the use of a mobile shower chair or a wheelchair for transfers then ensure that a clear unobstructed 1500 mm turning circle is provided. It is acceptable for wash hand basins to slightly overlap the designated showering area, but no more than 200 mm at the back edge of the turning circle.
- There needs to be a clear space between the toilet and the shower area to allow for transfers and turning circles as required.
- Flooring – Provision of slip resistant flooring within the whole bathroom is essential where shower facilities are being provided and must form a watertight seal with any shower tray base. Where a sheet covering finish is provided i.e. Altro Flooring, this should be heat sealed and skirted up the walls around the shower area, in accordance with the Manufacturer’s instructions. The flooring must be easy clean
- Showering system – This must be thermostatically controlled and fitted 1000 mm – 1200 mm from finished floor level to the base of the controls.
- Position of the Controls – These are generally fitted on the long wall of the shower area at approximately 900 mm above the finished floor level so that the seated user can reach them easily. If you require the assistance of a Carer to always shower you then in the design you may wish to fit the shower controls and slider bar and hose on the short wall of the shower area so that it is easier for the Carer to reach and operate.
- Type of Controls – These are generally lever or dial controls to make them easier to operate. It is possible to have a push button control but these are usually only available on electric shower control units. Where you have a visual impairment, hearing impairment or there are some problems with memory loss then look to provide a shower control with audible and visual indicators such as:
- Tactile touch – raised ‘Temp and Flow symbols
- Audible and visual feedback – audible and illuminated start stop button
- Low force push buttons for ease of use
- Automatic shut down after 30 minutes – essential where a User might get out of the shower and forget to turn it off as this will prevent any risk of flooding.
- Shower Head – should be adjustable, detachable and fitted to a slider bar. It is often possible to provide additional holders to enable multi users to fit the shower head at different heights.
- Slider Bar – A 1000 mm slider bar should be provided and positioned on the same long wall as the controls with the base of the slider bar fitted approximately 900-1000 mm from the finished floor level and between 400-500 mm from the short wall
- Shower Hose – These should be provided in either 1500 mm or 2000 mm lengths and be detachable and flexible.
- Shower Curtain –Always provide and fit a full length weighted, anti static shower curtain around the shower area to allow for water containment. The shower curtain also needs to hang inside the falls/tray base of the shower area and hang so that it just touches the floor level. The shower track needs to be a suitable design to fit around the designated shower area.
- Shower screens – If you consider fitting half height shower screen doors within your scheme then make sure that the remaining clear space available in your shower is not compromised and results in being too small to fully meet your needs. If needing the assistance of a Carer you may want to consider portable shower screens that can be placed where the Carer most needs them and then moved away when not in use. Ensure the Carer is physically capable of moving the portable shower screens.
- Grab Rails – These should have a slip resistant finish and are available in 12”, 18” and 24” lengths. They can be fitted horizontally and vertically to meet your specific needs. You need to consider whether you are going to sit in the shower and if so whether you need something to hold onto to enable you to stand to wash yourself or simply to sit and stand from your seat. It is often better to purchase a number of rails and then, if you are not using the services of an Occupational Therapist, wait for the shower to be installed and then work out with the builder exactly where you specifically require your rails to be fitted. It will usually result in both horizontal and vertical rails being installed.
- Shower seats – You can purchase these at local dealers or it may be worth contacting your Local Authority to see whether they will provide a mobile one for you following an Assessment. You may have to wait for such an Assessment.
- Seats that can be provided are:
- Static stand alone chairs with or without padding on seat and back and arm rests
- Folding wall mounted shower seats with or without backs. It is recommended that you always fix one that has a supporting leg as these are more stable
- Mobile shower chairs – either self propelling or attendant propelled models are available.
- Lighting needs to be checked and if necessary changed to provide a vapour proof fixing.
- Consider the heating within the bathroom and alter if necessary. If there are no radiators in the bathroom then, at a bare minimum, provide a suitable wall mounted electric heater to warm the room when in use. Look at installing low surface temperature electric or central heating radiators or towel rails because these will prevent any risk of scalding as they will not exceed 43 degrees C
- Tiling/Panelling – These need to be provided and fitted floor to ceiling within the designated shower area with appropriate waterproof adhesive and grouting.
- Ventilation – You must ensure that appropriate ventilation is provided within the new shower room as there will be additional moisture and humidity from the shower and it is essential that this is removed from the room appropriately to reduce possible problems with condensation, mildew and mould that can cause unnecessary health problems.
When designing a shower facility make sure that you consider the implication of your present disability as well as any future needs so that you can plan accordingly and appropriately: