When you are a person with disabilities, things that might appear perfectly normal to an able bodied person take on a whole different perspective in terms of accessibility, ease of use, need or desirability and function. This applies to many situations, but here in this article I want to talk more specifically about that room in the house that can either be a perfectly designed place to be enjoyed or a badly designed nightmare. The bathroom!
More especially, the shower that every self respecting person needs and deserves to have the full use of, whether they are able bodied or a person with disabilities. Now, something else about this article is the phrasing I'm going to use to best describe the items that I'll be talking about. It has become very un-politically correct to use some of the terms that we all grew up with in my generation, but when people are searching the web for certain things, some terms are more heavily used than others, so when I use the term "handicap shower accessories" for the purposes of this article, I'm not being deliberately old fashioned, just practical. So with that out of the way, lets get on and talk about what I'm going to talk about.
First a bit of background. I probably don't need to point out that bathrooms are generally designed with the able bodied in mind and the bulk of the furniture, fittings and accessories that are manufactured for that room are along those lines. But of course people who are, for whatever reason not able to make use of the regular bathroom, need specially designed furniture, fittings and accessories to make the bathroom a more accessible place, especially when they are reliant on a wheelchair for mobility.
Handicap bathroom design is all about accessibility for people with disabilities and one of the most important features of the bathroom is the shower. Now most regular shower cubicles are either too small or too difficult to navigate for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility, so designers taking these factors into consideration came up with a much larger shower enclosure. They are open fronted making access for wheelchair users as easy as possible and rather than having a curb to trap the water inside and stop it flooding all over the bathroom floor, the design incorporates a gully with a fine mesh grid to catch the excess water. A heavy duty shower curtain closes the unit off when in use so water doesn't go everywhere.
Inside a handicap shower enclosure, grab rails are positioned for maximum safely while inside the shower enclosure. These can be custom fitted for individual needs. So, on to the accessories and the actual reason for this article.
Most handicap shower accessories are designed to compliment the specially made showers themselves and to enhance their ease of use and make using them a more pleasant experience, which of course taking a shower should absolutely be. To this end, the following accessories can be obtained that will enhance not just the functionality of the shower, but also that all important feelgood factor.
Handicap Shower Accessories
Handicap shower seats can be obtained in several different designs that can be either wall mounted or free standing. They are typically made from stainless steel with waterproof seat coverings and are designed to support loads of anywhere between 250 pounds up to 900 pounds, making them very durable and functional.
Hand Held Shower Head
A hand held shower head is a truly useful addition that improves the safety and convenience of the shower for the user. They come with a chrome yoga bar that makes positioning the shower head simplicity itself and they are also very easy to install. When you are using a wheelchair inside the shower enclosure, a hand held shower head makes the process of taking a shower much more user friendly and enjoyable, especially when you don't have to continually move around to get a good position under the spray of a fixed shower head. Being able to detach the shower head quickly and with minimum effort also adds to the pleasure of the shower experience for the wheelchair user or person with limited mobility.
Pressure Mixing Valve
A pressure mixing valve is another of those really useful and functional handicap shower accessories that vastly enhance the showering experience. They allow the user to set the water temperature and then ensures that it remains stable throughout the shower by keeping the water pressure steady. Without one of these, water pressure is constantly changing when other people in the house turn taps on or off, washing machines are active or dishwashers are being used. With a pressure mixing valve fitted, that problem is negated and a constant water temperature can then be enjoyed while taking a shower.
In some designs of handicap showers, especially older models, there is an absence of a water gully and grid to take the excess water away. In this case a water retainer is needed to stop water covering the bathroom floor. Specially adapted water retaining strips can be obtained that are made from flexible and very durable neoprene rubber that keep the water where its supposed to be and also allows a wheelchair to cross with no difficulty.
Heavy Duty Shower Curtain
As earlier mentioned, a heavy duty shower curtain is a highly recommended handicap shower accessory as not only are they strong, durable and resistant to tearing, they are also flame, odour and stain resistant meaning they will last a whole lot longer than the cheaper and more flimsy regular shower curtains. They negate the problem of false economy by spending money on a cheap shower curtain only to find it needs replacing a couple of months down the line, whereas a good quality heavy duty shower curtain will last for years.
So so can see that most of the accessibility and usability aspects of a shower specially designed for people with disabilities has been taken care of by carefully and sensibly designed items that are intended to not only improve the general functionality, but also to enhance the user experience while taking a shower. For a daily task that most able bodied people take for granted, where previously people with disabilities may have found it a cumbersome and awkward task at best, can now take as much pleasure in what really should be a simple process as anyone else.