Many of us may take showering and bathing as a routine part of our day. Turn the water on, hop in the tub, wash, jump out and dry yourself. Unfortunately, is it not that easy for everyone. For some people it is much more of a chore because there is no hopping in and jumping out. Things can be a little more difficult than that for people in wheelchairs or with other disabilities or handicaps. Purchasing and installing a handicap accessible tub is an important step and consideration when designing and installing a handicap accessible bathroom. The Americans with Disabilities Act, known as ADA, lists approved equipment and features that allow for easier entry and exit from a bathtub. The manufacturers along with the ADA take into account the special needs of many people and created an easy to enter and easy to exit bathtub. Installing ADA approved bathtubs not only makes it easier for those with physical limitations, it make bathing safer. Bathtub slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone while stepping in or out of a tub, but when you are faced with physical challenges the incidence of a fall skyrockets without the correct equipment.
Choosing a Bathtub
Choose a bathtub with a maximum height of 20 inches or choose a tub with an entry door that allows the user to enter the tub through a watertight door in the side of the tub. It is much easier to enter a tub through a door than to attempt to climb over the side where many dangerous slip and fall accidents may occur. Pick a bathtub that allows for the easiest access for the user.
Install a seat at the end of the bathtub a minimum of 18 inches wide. Make sure you choose an ADA approved bathtub seat. Never use a seat that is not fastened and secured. Seats that are not fastened are a safety hazard that can leave to a dangerous fall. Only install bathtub seats that are specifically designed for use in the bathtub. This is not a case of any old seat will do.
Install a grab bar running alongside the tub. Do not install grab bars at angles as this can also lead to a fall if someone's hand slips down the grab bar. Secure grab bars into the walls, mounted in the wall studs. Never use grab bars that mount with suction cup devices, they are just not safe. Grab bars requiriing proper positioning as directed by the instructions included with the safety bars.
Install the faucet and shower controls along the side of the tub within reach, if you lean over. Do not install them at one end of the tub; side mount installation is safer. Choose faucets with an anti-scald device to prevent an accidental burn by those who do not have the mobility to move away from scalding water flowing from the faucet.
Install a handheld showerhead on a slide bar for ease of showering and safety. A showerhead installation on a slide bar prevents the showerhead from falling out of reach.
Always keep the safety of the bathtub user in mind when designing and installing handicap accessible accessories and devices. Be aware of the challenges they face and help them meet those challenges on their own. Giving a person the gift of freedom to bathe by themselves instills confidence and boosts self esteem.