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When designing a bathroom to suit your mobility needs, the position of your walk-in shower or walk-in bath is usually a very simple decision. The position of support fittings – such as where to put grab rails in relation to a bath or shower seat – often requires a little more thought. Suitable positioning of these fixtures is important to ensure that they provide adequate support to perform specific tasks.

Taking a bit of time to get this right could save you a great deal of discomfort and avoid unnecessary strains or injuries. As a starting point it’s useful to contemplate your daily bathing routine and what specific tasks you need your bathing aids to perform within that routine.

Different types of grab rail

Horizontal rails are very useful when pushing up from a sitting position and provide support when lowering, so they are often positioned near to seats. Vertical rails can provide assistance when pulling up into a standing position. Inclined rails, fixed at a slight angle to the horizontal, are often suitable if you have weak or painful arms or wrists – the angle can support your forearm on the rail whilst pushing up and in doing this your body weight is spread over a larger area. Angled rails – placed at an angle of 45° rising away from the user – are ideal if you need a steadying support, perhaps in the process of standing up. It means that you can can keep your wrist in a neutral position and not have to lean too far forward to grip the nearest end of the rail due to its lower position. Once you’ve achieved a standing position, your hand can travel up the rail to maintain the support.

Rail positions for baths

A horizontal grab rail, fixed on the wall approximately 10cm above the bath rim, can provide valuable assistance when standing up in the bath. You can hold the rail with one hand and use the other to push against the outer rim of the walk-in bath. In many cases the ideal starting point for the rail is approximately 20cm from the tap end of the bath. Alternatively the rail can be fixed at an angle (rising upwards towards the head end of the bath) to provide an inclined support. If you often stand in a bath to take a shower it could be useful to fix a vertical rail on the wall, around 60cm from the tap end of the bath. The lower end of the rail should be fixed approximately 20cm above the bath rim. If the head end of the bath rests against a wall and there are no obstructions (e.g. a sink) on this wall then a vertical rail could be installed at a comfortable height to support you when stepping in and out of the bath.

Rail positions for showers

A vertical rail at the entrance to the shower enclosure can be useful for support when stepping in and out of the cubicle. It should be positioned at a height that you can comfortably reach, whether you’re stood inside or outside of the enclosure. Horizontal rails fixed either side of a shower seat can help to prevent you sliding off a seat. In many cases a rail is ideally fixed to the wall at the side of the shower seat, approximately 20cm above the seat’s height to assist standing. If you’re a wheelchair user, holding onto this rail can give you secure support when transferring to the shower seat. In certain shower cubicles you may be able to get additional support by fixing a horizontal rail on the wall opposite the shower seat, positioned at an approximate height of 1m above the floor (providing it can be easily reached from the seat). If you would prefer a vertical rail here, the lowest end should be fixed at around 80cm above the floor. Bear in mind that, in order to provide adequate support, the distance between the rail and the front of your shower seat should be less than 55cm.

Always consider your personal needs

The above descriptions are meant to provide basic guidelines. They are based on building regulations and generic recommendations when the user is unknown, but it is worth remembering that everyone is unique and you should consider your personal needs, and individual factors like your height, when deciding the precise position of your support fittings. Ultimately, it’s about what works for your specific measurements, your routine and your home environment. The friendly team at Mobility Plus can give you advice on support fitting positions as part of our no-obligation consultation. Our care advisors will take time in talking through your personal requirements so you can make an informed choice on the best solution for you. Our service includes a free design plan of how your bathroom could look, including the potential position of grab rails and shower seats. Contact Mobility Plus today and we’ll get to grips with your grab rail needs!

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