By Katie Bergeron Peglow, PT, MS
Remodeling can be a daunting task. However, if you have the ambition, time, energy, and some handy-man skills, you can do it yourself. The internet has many resources readily available to help you through any project…even a bathroom!
Things to consider when tackling a bathroom remodel:
- Do you need any new adaptive equipment?
- Do you need to change from a tub to a shower stall?
- Do you need a different style of toilet?
- Does the vanity need to be replaced?
- Do you need to reposition any mirrors?
Do you need any new adaptive equipment? This question is posed first because it will often dictate the answers to the subsequent questions. Bath chairs are used when a soaking bath is desired for the user. Most bath chairs can be lowered far enough down to allow the user to be submerged at least to their waist. Bath lifts are used when a soaking bath is desired for the user AND either independence is a goal or the caregiver cannot lift the user in an out of the tub on their own. The Bath lift allows the user to transfer onto the bath seat at the edge of the tub with or without assistance. Then the bath lift can be lowered into the tub for a soaking bath. Shower chairs are another option. You can choose from two different kinds: roll-in shower chairs or transfer shower chair systems.
Do you need to change from a tub to a shower stall? If you are getting a bath chair, bath lift or a transfer shower chair system, you can most likely continue to use your tub. Just double-check the dimensions of the bath equipment compared with your tub dimensions to make sure they are compatible. If you are interested in a rolling shower chair, a shower stall will be required.
Do you need a different style of toilet? This would need to be considered if you need a smaller toilet to make more room in your bathroom. Another reason to look at your toilet would be if your roll-in shower chair or transfer shower chair system has a toileting component to it. You will need to make sure your current toilet is compatible with the new equipment that you are ordering.
Does the vanity need to be replaced? The vanity may need to be replaced to make more room in your bathroom. You may also want to consider having a floating countertop with nothing underneath. This would allow for access of the countertop and sink by the user in a wheelchair or sitting on a stool for various grooming tasks.
Do you need to reposition any mirrors? Mirrors may need to be adjusted to accommodate users that are in a wheelchair or sitting on a stool for different grooming tasks in the bathroom.
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a good place to start to find accessible dimension guidelines. The ADA is for public and government facility compliance and is not required in private homes. However, the dimensions within the regulations are considered accessible. Wherever possible, accommodating these dimensions within your home will make maneuvering much easier.
ADAbathroom.com is a great resource site. It focuses on just the bathroom ADA requirements. They have separate sections for grab bars, shower seats, and mirrors.
Please understand that although I am a licensed physical therapist, I cannot act in the capacity of your professional therapist(s). An in-depth knowledge of your medical condition and abilities are required to make any final equipment recommendations. Your therapist(s) is best qualified for this reason. What I can do is work with you and your therapist(s) to help YOU make the best choice for your child’s needs.