Adapting a House for People who are Frail, Elderly or Disabled



I have written a number of articles about adapting a house to be more suitable for use by people who are frail, older or disabled.


This is a list so that anyone interested (or not interested) can find them slightly more easily.


Converting a Downstairs Bathroom into an Accessible Shower Room


Cost for this was just over £2k, including about £1k for the Fitter Labour and £250 for a shower seat and grab rails etc. A full replacement would have cost about £2500, with perhaps £1250-£1500 of materials. For a DIY version it would have cost £1200-£1500. 

A detailed set of 6 articles about my downstairs bathroom being made into a shower room:

  1. Accessible Ablutions - Strip OUt
  2. Accessible Ablutions 2 - Ducts for the Future
  3. Accessible Ablutions 3 - Half Way Photos
  4. Accessible Ablutions 4 - Finished Photos
  5. Accessible Ablutions 5 - 3d Printing
  6. Accessible Ablutions 6 - Costs and Components


Project Discussion thread:


Adding a Bath to the a large upstairs shower room


Before and after articles with 3-d model, finished video, and debate leading to design changes:

  1. Bathroom Refurbishment Project (1) - Comments Please
  2. Bathroom Refurbishment Project (2) - Proposed Design
  3. Bathroom Refurbishment Project Finished


More will be added as and when. The next projects are a further bathroom refurbishment upstairs and an accessibility ramp on the front path.




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Ok Problem fix. Half used soap falls through wire hangover soap dish.




Solution is new kitchen scourer cut to size. if I were being posh, I would use one of the samples of walk on shower non slip matting I have.





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Notes of an update, which perhaps would benefit from an article of its own.










1 - Grabrails


The older person for whom the room was adapted has spent a couple of weeks mainly in a wheelchair, following a slip off the settee (note to self: investigate a custom cushion with non slip fabric for the settee). This slip was caused by weakness following sickness for a small number of days, which caused some weightloss - only 2-3kg , but significant for someone weighing around 43-45kg. Recovering more normal energy intake will help that over several weeks. 


A couple of months in we have made adjustments to some elements that had been left in until we had decided what to do. We have fitted trombone-Hitler grabrails as per the photo below. I have no idea what the real name is of the piece of kit.


On these grabrails we have fitted 2 types bought from Screwfix, Croydex have not been very impressive in this situation, Nymex have been. Croydex have more play at the hinges, whilst Nymex have rubber bushes at the hinge to hold the rail steadier.


The extra row of holes is where we got it slightly wrong with the stainless steel grab rail.


( * The action is like a fascist salute, and it looks like a trombone; it seems highly appropriate to remember an evil Dictator in the name of a piece of kit to benefit people he wanted to kill, in the spirit of The Producers.) 


2 - Radiator Width


We have also narrowed the radiator, as the previous one is exactly the same width as the wheelchair usually used in the shower room, which has the effect of preventing the wheelchair backing against the wall by about 50mm. That may seem like a detail, however gaining an extra inch makes the transfer if the user wishes to do it sideways (rather than face on) feel more comfortable.


That is an example of how tiny details can make a difference.


3 - Squeezable Wheelchair


Another detail is that the wheelchair used for this bathroom is a folding wheelchair, and the width can therefore "squeeze in" by about 2cm, which makes it just fit between the loo and the shower, and also slightly wedge itself in, which also helps. I admit that that was not planned.


4 - Turning Space


Remarkably there is also room to turn the wheelchair in the alcove by the shower, though this is miles from meeting regs for a turning spot.


None of these details would work for a larger or taller man, but in these circumstances they do - a strategy of "marginal gains".


5 - Wheelchair Accessible Shower


I also have a plan for making the shower wheelchair accessible should that prove necessary, which simply involves removing the end screen (about 4 screws at the wall end, the block at the top, and a Stanley knife cut along the silicone bead at the bottom), plus raising the floor by 125mm with a tightly fitting but non screwed stud frame, and a ramp from the door, which would then be topped with ply and tiled or covered with vinyl. This can then be removed to do a full restoration later.


6 - Individual Adaptations


It is worth noting that some of the above is only possible for the particular small individual. If mum were a rugby player we would be whistling in the wind, and would have had to go with a full wetroom.










Edited by Ferdinand
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Difficult times @Ferdinand, but your mum's lucky to have such an attentive son helping her out.


Re: food, I've read repeatedly over the last few years that protein is less well-absorbed as we get older. Is appetite a problem? If not, I'd be trying to get her to eat as much protein as possible. Focus on beef and eggs, but lamb and fish (particularly oily fish) are good too. If she'll eat it, liver (even 50g a couple of times a week) is fantastic. If tolerated, full fat dairy is an excellent source of nutrients.


Vitamin D supplementation is useful at all ages (especially outside of the summer months, or all year round for those who aren't out in the sun regularly).  


And as I'm sure you know, any form of activity is good. If nothing else, exercise may help with appetite.


All the very best to your mum.

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When nanny was still at home we got quite a lot of equipment supplied for us as the OT said it was needed.

This reduced the cost of converting he bathroom to a wet room.

They provided all the grab rails (including the rest of the house), the shower seat and the heated towel rail.


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