Creating a bathroom for people using mobility equipment takes a lot of planning, but it can be done. Many homeowners are adopting the principle of Universal Design, which means the home is designed to accommodate the needs of everyone, including people with disabilities.
Universal design is also a principle which will allow people to live in their homes for longer. The changing needs of seniors, for example, are built right into the design.
Ground floor bathroom
Unless your home has wheelchair accessible ramps or an elevator, the accessible bathroom should be on the ground floor. However, if the disabled person can use a stair lift the home could have an accessible toilet on the ground floor, and an accessible full bathroom on the upper floor.
The size of the accessible bathroom
The bathroom doorways in older homes may not be wide enough for wheelchairs to access. Walkers, too, are wide. Bathroom doorways should be renovated to at least 36 inches wide.
Accessible bathrooms need space to maneuver a walker or wheelchair. Ideally, there should be maneuvering space of 30” by 47” beside all fixtures: toilet, tub/shower, and sink. The disabled person must be able to reach every faucet and control without leaning.
A non-slip flooring surface will prevent falls. Bath mats should not be used, as they are a trip hazard. Make sure there are no bath products which would spill, and become a trip hazard.
An accessible bathroom must be able to prevent falls. Bathrooms should have vertical grab bars conveniently mounted at the correct height. This height depends on the size of the person using the bathroom.
These grab bars can double as towel rails. Ordinary towel rails should be removed, as they are not strong enough to act as grab bars.
Grab bars must be installed on the wall by the shower and tub. Non-slip mats should be used, too.
The most accessible bathroom is known as a wet room, where the entire room can be drained. Walk-in tubs, with a built-in seat, are also effective.
If the bathroom has only a shower, make sure the entry is flush with the floor, and there is no lip which could be a trip hazard. Inside the shower, make sure the shower head is on a vertical slide bar so it can be lowered for use by someone seated.
The accessible toilet should have a raised seat, and foldable grab bars. Ideally, there should be maneuvering space in front of and beside the toilet.
Knee space must be provided under the sink, so people in wheelchairs can reach the faucets. Hands-free faucets are an option to consider, depending on need.
Sources used in researching this article include the CMHC article: Accessible Housing by Design–Bathrooms