How to help safety-proof a bathroom
Occupational therapist Sharon Howell gives advice on how to help safety-proof a bathroom, a common spot for falls.
Stay safe with professional advice
Howell’s tips on how to help safety-proof a bathroom
- Install grab rails (consult an occupational therapist for appropriate placement and to ensure these are installed correctly).
- If your loved one’s home is being renovated, consider having a stepless shower installed to reduce trips.
- Consider installing safety flooring, or applying a non-slip treatment to the floor.
- Purchase a specialised shower stool or chair for your loved one if they are unsteady on their feet.
- Long-handled aids such as a toe-washer or long-handled sponge can help.
- Consider having a thermostatic mixing valve installed to reduce the risk of scalding.
- Organise for a plumber to lower the temperature of the hot-water service so it cannot scald your loved one.
- Purchase a rubber-backed bath mat.
- Remove other mats from the bathroom, as these can be trip hazards.
- Ensure the floor is kept free from trip hazards, such as discarded towels and clothes.
- Mop up and dry wet floors.
- Consider having a personal alarm installed, so that if your loved one falls and can't get up they can still get help.
- Evaluate whether it is still safe for your loved one to use the bath.
- An occupational therapist can provide advice on redesigning a bathroom, offering alternative strategies to increase safety (specific to your loved one’s functional level) and recommend the most appropriate equipment to maximise independence.
Keeping it clean
- Make sure that your loved one has all the equipment they need before they begin cleaning, to prevent them having to get up and down frequently.
- Have them use heavy-duty spray and detergents that can be applied to the surface and left to dissolve grime; they can then return later to wipe over and rinse (task rotation).
- Advise them to kneel on a mat or towel to clean the shower base and/or bath rather than bending and stooping, or to use a long-handled tool.
- Long-handled toilet brush.
- Long-handled scourer or scrubbing brush.
- Heavy-duty sprays.
- Window wipes.
- Antibacterial wipes.
Don’t settle for a bathroom environment that could be a hazard for your loved one. Seek advice from an occupational therapist to help reduce the risk of accidents.