Straight grab rails
These are available in a variety of lengths and thicknesses – a chunkier rail could be easier to grip if you have limited dexterity. Some rails have a special grip-assisted surface. As well as white and metallic finishes, you can choose brightly coloured rails for better visual contrast.
Whatever sort of rail you select, make sure that the fittings are compatible with the wall it is to be fixed to. If this is a thin partition wall, it may need a backboard fixed to other side, so that the rail can be attached to that, so that there is sufficient strength.
Angled grab rails
Angled rails are useful anywhere you want to change height (from standing to sitting, for example). So – next to the toilet; by the bath; in the shower. Make sure that the rails are installed at the right level to suit the user. Check out the new modular systems where you can mix and match elements to make up your own rails.
Plastic rails are more straightforward to install in a bathroom, as unlike metal ones, they don’t require earth-bonding.
These can be used where a projecting fixed rail could be awkward – next to the toilet or washbasin. When the rails are not required, they can be pushed up out of the way against the wall.
There are models available with an additional support leg for added security, or where the wall does not offer strong enough fixing on its own, a floor-mounted post can be used. The hinged rail is often also provided with a convenience built-in toilet roll holder.
In some situations, where there isn’t a convenient wall to fix a support, it may be more convenient to have a pole which is fitted to the floor, or floor-to-ceiling.
A floor-to-ceiling pole is adjustable in height, and may need no structural work to install it.
As well as the vertical support, there is a horizontal bar that is adjustable in height, and may also pivot – to help with stepping in and out of the bath, for example.
More than 600 people are seriously scalded in their bathrooms every year, with children, the elderly and disabled most at risk.
A safety certification system, the BEAB CARE Mark, enables you to select showers and other electrical products that have been independently verified as safe and reliable in preventing injuries such as scalding. Features may include accurate thermostatic controls; a temperature lock, to prevent accidental alteration of the water temperature; an anti-scald cutout; visual and audible temperature warnings; easy, tactile controls.
Another product to help guard against scalding is the water temperature alert (left), that displays a digital temperature alert and buzzes a warning if the bath is too hot.
If you have a radiator that gets very hot to touch, there are safer alternatives. You could consider replacing it with a low surface temperature electric radiator, shown here, which warms the room efficiently, without the risk of a burn. Alternatively, you can fit a cover over your existing radiator, which will also help direct warm air out into the room, rather then up towards the ceiling, giving you better value from the money you spend on heating! If a complete bathroom redesign is on the cards, then underfloor heating is an increasingly popular and safe option.
Many taps are tricky for anyone to turn, once their hands are wet and soapy.
If your grip is weak or your dexterity reduced, lever taps will be much easier to operate.
Or you can find automatic taps with infrared sensors that you don’t need to turn on or off at all. This can help prevent the spread of bacteria, as well as saving money and water.
A hard-wearing waterproof floor covering with a non-slip textured surface is a safe solution in the bathroom – especially for anyone with reduced mobility.
This type of flooring is also suitable for wet floor shower areas.
Interested in making your bathroom safer? Visit our bathroom safety section
See also the bathroom products in the Care Professional section