“The overarching message when looking
at the future of bathrooms is that
inclusivity should be non-negotiable”
Bathroom industry rising to the
challenges of an ageing population
Martin Walker, CEO of Methven UK, discusses the role played by technology and design in the
creation of usable bathrooms for the ageing population and what this means for installers.
As a result of modern technological
advancements and improvements
in healthcare, UK residents have
a longer life expectancy than
While this is an overwhelmingly positive
development, it also presents bathroom
designers and manufacturers with a
series of new challenges which need to be
With more than 11 million people in
the UK currently aged 65 or over and
more than one million aged 85 or above,
society has a responsibility to ensure that
the elderly have easy access to safe and
As part of a survey on housing options
for the elderly, housing charity, Shelter,
found that more than half of respondents
considered their current bathrooms as
requiring modification before they could
be classed as fully accessible and easy to
With statistics also showing that
treatments for elderly patients who have
suffered injuries as a result of bath-related
falls costs the NHS £16 million annually,
the need for change is clear to see.
The bathroom industry needs to do more
to support inclusive living. In response,
the Bathroom Manufacturers Association
has begun trying to tackle the issue
by offering advice and assistance to its
members to enable them to make their
own commercial decisions.
Meanwhile, manufacturers are
developing products designed to improve
safety and accessibility and this is enabling
the creation of bathrooms which are
usable for the duration of a person’s life.
Product enhancements can improve
the bathroom experience for the elderly.
These include longer, more ergonomically
designed lever handles, or looped lever
handles which make showers and taps
easier to operate.
Similarly, new taps which feature
clearer markings and instructions mean
that those operating them can identify
hot from cold much more easily, while
taps which feature ceramic disc valves are
able to move more smoothly, making
them easier to operate for those with
Ensuring the continued development of
new technologies which help future-proof
bathrooms for the benefit of the ageing
population is also vital.
Although walk-in baths and showers have
many advantages, they are not the answer to
all the bathroom issues facing the elderly.
Showering, for example, can present
a number of challenges, with flow rates,
temperature settings and spray patterns
all capable of significantly impacting an
older person’s showering experience.
As a result, new technological
advancements in showering products have
emerged, such as showers that produce
softer flow rates for users with sensitive
skin. In addition to benefitting the elderly,
these products are also extremely useful
for households with young children.
Examples of these products can
be found in our Satinjet range. The
technology produces larger water droplets
than conventional showers, delivering
a more comfortable shower that also
delivers greater coverage and warmth.
With the rise in multi-generational
living, this is good news for many and
also highlights the need for specifiers to
be equipped with as much information
as possible about the inhabitants of
properties and any specific requirements
they might have.
Safety is the most important
consideration when specifying products
for use by the elderly. The ability to
control water temperature, for example,
is important because hot water has the
ability to cause severe scald injuries within
seconds. Over 570 serious bath water
scald injuries occur in the UK every year
and scalding is the second most common
cause of household injuries.
controlled products which control water
temperature should be specified where
possible, as these products contain valves
that maintain a pre-set temperature and
reduce the likelihood of scalds occurring.
Cool-to-touch bar shower technology
is also useful in households with elderly
residents as it prevents the temperature of
shower valves exceeding that of the mixed
water, meaning that users won’t scald
themselves even if they come into contact
with the shower body. And, with shower
spaces becoming smaller as average house
sizes continue to shrink, this is more likely
to occur than ever.
The overarching message when
looking at the future of bathrooms is that
inclusivity should be non-negotiable.
As a result, installers recommending
specifications for older customers should
always refer to products that conform
to the BuildCert TMV scheme – a
specification programme that evaluates
the risk of a product causing scalding.
Any product for use by a member of the
ageing population should be user-friendly
and suitable for their needs in order to
ensure the bathroom remains as safe a
place as possible.
ENQUIRY NUMBER 106
Unlike conventional showers that sometimes
produce an uncomfortable, needle-like spray, Satinjet
technology creates an optimum water droplet size,
providing an immersive full body experience
44 Heating & Plumbing Monthly | MAY 2018 | www.hpmmag.com