Accessible bathroom design
When Mary O’Donnell told me she needed to remodel her bathroom due to onset of ALS I was stunned. We had recently remodelled her kitchen and she appeared physically fine at the time. Now we needed to change her master bathroom to accommodate immediate and future physical limitations. The first thing we looked at was access to the room; both the master bedroom and bathroom doors were too small to allow wheelchair passage so we decided to enlarge them and use a pocket door into the bathroom. The existing floorplan included a bathtub/shower unit that was no longer usable by Mary so we re-arranged the floor plan to give her a roll-in shower, accessible toilet and vanity area.
The roll-in shower needed to be large in case an assistant was needed while showering so we used as much space as we could from the room. This enabled us to provide a 20 sq ft area with some glass enclosure but also a curtain over the main entry area for ease of access. The roll-in aspect required us to use tile for the entire room floor with a floor drain in the shower area. The shower valve was placed in an easy reach position and the shower head was a hand held unit on a slide bar for height adjustments. Decorative safety grab bars were installed on all three tiled walls to help prevent falls. To light the shower 4 water resistant recessed lights were installed in the shower ceiling. We also added a built-in niche for soap and shampoo bottles.
The vanity cabinet included open shelving so Mary could keep some often used items where she would not need to open drawers. The Kohler sink was set into a cabinet with space below for wheelchair access. We included a single handle lever type faucet and wrapped the exposed sink drain pipes to prevent scalding. The tilting vanity mirror provides reflection from either a standing or seated position. Of course we included a decorative grab bar next to the raised height toilet to complete the accessibility plan.
While Mary lives with the realities of her physical problems she can at least enjoy a safe bathroom that is both practical and beautiful. Our goal of blending safety needs with aesthetics were met in a way that any user would love this bathroom.