Accessible design in public washrooms

In public places, adapted washrooms must cater for the whole population, not just individuals. Where space is at a premium, separate provision for people with reduced mobility is not always possible.

The obvious solution is to specify washrooms with access for everyone regardless of age, level of mobility or independence. This means designing a neutral environment which is discrete, non-stigmatising, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. 

Every user will then feel comfortable, whether they are able-bodied, ambulant disabled, wheelchair users or fully dependent on a carer.

Designing for shared use

Good aesthetic design removes the institutional and medicalised aspect of accessible washrooms. DELABIE’s designers are conscious that product appearance is just as important as technical performance. The Be-Line range of grab bars, shower seats and accessories have sleek, stylish lines that are easy to clean and maintain. 

Offering a complete range of products in matte white and metallised anthracite provides specifiers with options that complement the décor and provide a good visual contrast with wall finishes. 

Adaptability is also important for facilities that provide short-term accommodation for people with reduced mobility, for example, hotels. Removable shower seats provide a practical solution in rooms where the use changes according to the user. The seat can be installed only when required. 

Taking the strain

The primary role of grab bars and shower seats is to support the static weight of any user and assist their movement within the washroom. The elderly or people with reduced mobility can easily lose their balance.  If they reach for the nearest hand hold, whether this is a grab bar or riser rail, it must support the additional force required to arrest their fall. 

The type of fixing is therefore very important. Be-Line grab bars, shower seats and accessories have robust, concealed fixings which provide the ideal solution. Not only are they completely hidden, they also prevent unwanted removal.

In the event of the user falling, grab bar dimensions also take on greater significance. If the user slips, their arm may get trapped between the wall and the grab bar. By limiting the gap between the bar and the wall, Be-Line grab bars minimise the risk of fracture. 

To provide full support the profile of the grab bar or support rail must allow a firm, natural hold. If the bar’s profile is too angular, the hand cannot grasp the bar properly. 

Be-line grab bars have an ergonomic profile comprising a flat front face plus a 35mm diameter to optimise the grip. If the diameter is too small or too large, the forearm muscle is activated rather than the shoulder muscle, placing unnecessary strain on the user.

Attention to detail

When considering design in accessible washrooms, the accessories are easy to overlook. Simple touches such as matching the finish on toilet roll holders, coat hooks and toilet brush can improve the aesthetic. Ergonomics play a significant part too, so installing toilet brushes - with a long ergonomic handle that self-centres when replaced in the holder - can be a small detail that improves the user’s experience. 

Specifiers of adapted washrooms in non-domestic environments no longer need to compromise on aesthetics. It is possible to incorporate stylish designs that will withstand intensive use while upholding user safety and hygiene standards.