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HPM April 2015

WWW.HPMMAG.COM Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com SPECIALREPORT Achieving a harmonious adaptation Disability, illness or changes in the family structure can all change the way the home is used. Keith Jobson, insight manager at AKW, advises installers to help homeowners plan accordingly, making any significant changes before they are urgently needed... Futureproofing the home, with the ultimate aim of allowing people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, must begin with some thought around future scenarios. Installers can lead homeowners in this process by asking the right questions, for example, is multi-generational living, where young children, parents and grandparents all share a home, a possibility, and if so, is the layout of the home suitable? Could the home be used by someone with restricted mobility? If an individual needed support from a family member or carer when washing or dressing, could the current bathroom support these needs? In the case of accident, injury, or medical conditions such as strokes, mobility needs can change overnight. Many people will be able to continue to live independently with modest adaptations, such as grab rails, widened doors to accommodate wheelchairs and ramps or stair lifts, but in certain areas of the home, additional support is often required and in order to allow the individual to function in their own home as soon as possible, adaptations should be considered in advance of their need. But what are the typical hazards? The bathroom poses hazards to those with mobility restrictions. Stepping over into a bath or shower tray can be impossible without assistance and, with the added danger of wet, slippery surfaces, bathing alone can be problematic. In the bathroom more so than any room in the house it is vital to preserve dignity for all users, meaning that independent usage (or with minimum assistance from carers) should be the ultimate aim. For individuals who are unable to grip or have limited use of their hands, taps, shower controls and toilet flushes can also be challenging, while people with arthritis or difficulty bending may struggle to use a conventional toilet or bath. A HARMONIOUS ADAPTATION Unfortunately, the perception persists that mobility adaptations leave bathrooms looking cold, clinical and purely functional. In reality, it’s possible for installers to create adapted rooms that suit the needs of all residents without compromising on style and personal taste. To achieve a harmonious adaptation, the future needs of all users should be considered. For example, in a small bathroom there may not be room for both a bath and separate shower, meaning the shower is often installed over the bath. However, the need to step over high bath sides restricts users with mobility problems. Showers are actually proven to use far less water than baths - just 30 litres compared to the 80 litres needed to fill a bath - so recommending the complete removal of the bath and replacing with a spacious level-access shower not only suits the requirements of individuals with mobility impairments, but provides the whole household with energy and water savings. Futureproof adaptations can also be achieved in stages. Removing the bath can allow for a spacious wetroom to be installed in its place, providing a level-access, non-slip showering space which can be enjoyed by all residents. An adaptation of this kind can be done well in advance of any anticipated future needs, whereas grab rails and fold-away shower seats can be installed quickly and easily when the need arises. SELECTING THE CORRECT FLOOR Choosing the right wetroom floor former means that you can select a design to take additional weight, so if a wheelchair is needed, the user can shower in a chair or a carer can assist where possible without the worry of damaging the floor surface and compromising the watertight finish. To complete the wetroom installation, a variety of shower screens are available to suit varying needs, such as half-height screens which shield the room from water but allow a parent or carer to assist the user. Modern sanitary and brassware design allows for accessible products that do not look out of place even in the most stylish of bathrooms. Easy-to-use taps with levers are available with sleek, curved finishes which are not instantly recognisable as an adapted product. And, as taps and showers in new build homes must now feature thermostatic mixing valves (TMV) as standard to restrict the temperature of water, the latest brassware and shower products are already suitable for people who may not be able to quickly turn off the water flow if water reaches an uncomfortable temperature. Similarly, low-surface temperature (LST) radiators are recommended to prevent burns on contact, protecting all members of the family from young children with sensitive skin to individuals with dementia, who may lose their perception of danger. Both TMV and LST products are easy to install and help conserve energy, making them an ideal choice even when residents have no additional care needs. As mobility needs can sometimes increase unexpectedly, embarking on a phased approach to home adaptations in advance of the need arising can not only futureproof the home, but provides additional benefits to users at all stages of their lives and allow them to live more independently for longer. 36 APRIL 2015 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY enquiry number 128 Level access showering provides safety for those with mobility needs as well as a stylish aesthetic Removing the bath and replacing with a wetroom enhances safety and saves water


HPM April 2015
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