If you or a loved one have recently become a wheelchair user you may be considering adding a roll in shower. This can mean extensive renovations to your current bathroom, so careful thought and planning are a must.
Installing a shower that has easy wheelchair entry but also keeps the water from leaking onto the exterior floors can be tricky.
Some roll in showers are level with the floor. These showers typically have an interior slope to encourage water flow towards the drain. When this type of shower is installed, alterations will be needed to the sub-flooring of the bathroom. This can increase the cost of installation.
Other roll in showers have a ramp instead of a step up. The flooring inside is then slightly sloped for draining but as the floor is raised it can be installed without alterations to the sub-flooring of the bathroom. This typically lowers installation costs. Additionally, since this is easier to install and uninstall it may be more appealing if resale value on your home is a concern.
Barriers, such as the flexible water dam are another alternative. Some consider them the best of both worlds. They surround the shower preventing leakage but allow wheelchair access into and out of the shower. This allows a level entryway while protecting the exterior floors even if there is little or no slope around the drain.
Whatever roll in shower you decide will need to be big enough for comfortable maneuvering. The ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) recommends roll in shower stalls be at least 60 inches by X30 inches. Size requirements may be larger depending on your shelving and seating needs and preferences.
There are many options available for shower seating. These can vary greatly and include portable chairs, a fold up seat, and corner benches. The right seating in a roll in shower will take into account many factors including all users of the shower, size, and personal preferences.
Whatever seating is chosen, it should be placed where all controls and shelves are within easy reach.
Where floors are concerned, safety should be the single most important concern. Floors should be made of non-slip materials to prevent falls and injuries.
If you choose a shower that requires a sloped floor for draining, be aware that floor slope beyond 1/8th inch per foot can result in wheelchair sliding. Less sloping is preferable for safety.
Several considerations should be made when choosing wall surrounds. Wall Surrounds should:
Roll in showers should be equipped with adequate shelving or storage space for the users’ needs. In some cases, these could be built in wall cubbies, shelves, or under-chair storage spaces.
Which choice to make depends heavily on user mobility and preference, along with the size of the shower.
All storage should be within arm’s reach and not require stretching, bending, or twisting to access.
Shower heads should be detachable for ease of use. They should be mounted, like storage space, within easy reach. Detaching the shower head should be doable without stretching, bending, or twisting. All shower controls should be in reach when seated.
Shower heads should be simple to use and easy to clean. They should be adjustable for comfortable force and flow. Button adjustments instead of twist adjustments are preferable especially for those with limited use of hands or fingers.
Choose a sturdy material for the shower head to assure it will not break if dropped.
Hose length must be adequate for the size of the shower stall. The user should easily be able to spray his/her back and feet without the hose being taut.
Choosing a roll in shower for a new wheelchair user can be daunting. Everyone is an individual and their needs may vary. If you are in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island let our team of experts assist you in choosing the shower and accessories that are right for your needs. Give us a call at (508) 802-4259 or reach out to us online.