The first step in special needs bathroom design is to consider the specific physical limitations of the person who will be using the bathroom. Most people experience some decrease in the ability to reach and bend as they grow older. Almost all of us experience a degradation of our eyesight as well. For some, wheel chair accessibility might be either a temporary or permanent issue. Keeping these needs in mind will help you to better tailor the fixtures and layout of your bathroom.
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Limited mobility is an issue faced by people as they age, although young people can have these limitations as well. Some amenities to consider in a special needs bathroom will be raised toilet seats, tub seats, and grab bars around the shower, tub, and toilet. If reaching high objects is an issue, the storage should be designed no more than 5 feet above the floor. For those who must sitwhile showering, a hand held shower wand is a must. Arthritic hands can be a problem when turning faucets on and off. Replace faucets with knob handles with one that uses levers instead. Toggle light switches can be replaced with rocker plates.
Any changes made to the bathroom design for people with limited eyesight will prove beneficial for everyone. Start by eliminating any sudden changes of elevation in the floor, and include extra - long nonslip mats on the floor of the shower or tub. A glowing light switch can be installed outside the entrance to the bathroom. Use brighter lighting fixtures and bulbs, and make sure even the corners are well lit. Wheelchair accessibility can be a difficult issue to address. Special designed plumbing fixtures will be needed. You also need to design a bathroom with enough room for the wheelchair to enter and exit the room as well as to turn around once inside, preferably a 360 degree area measuring 60 inches in diameter. Doors between the living area and the bathroom must be at least 32 inches wide, with 60 inches of clearance for a bathroom door that swings in. It is best to avoid swinging doors completely, as they are always a hindrance for the wheelchair bound. Consider a pocket door instead. Or, for a private bath inside a bedroom, leave the door off altogether. Bathing and showering also require special equipment and planning, and can take up a lot of excess space.
Consider whether the modifications you are about to make need to be temporary or permanent. You might find practical and less expensive alternatives for temporary bathroom adaptations. Grab bars are an economical addition and are designed to support more weight than towel bars. Instead of installing a new toilet, you can acquire extensions to raise the seat of a standard toilet. A medical products supplier will have many of these adaptations in stock, and you might even be able to rent them.
Permanent disabilities will mean permanent changes. You have to determine whether adaptations can be made to an existing bathroom, or if a new bathroom must be added. You could consider converting an unused bedroom or expanding the bathroom into an existing closet space. If the family members physical limitations require longer bathroom time, adding an additional full or half - bath will help to ease the rush in the morning and get everybody of to work and school on time.
Your special needs bathroom will require a lot of time in planning and preparation. There is a lot to consider, including whether the changes need to be permanent or temporary. There are medical suppliers that specialize in mobility issues. They are a great source of information that you can use during the planning process.