COVER STORY: Access all areas: design trends for inclusive washrooms

With domestic design trends filtering through to non-domestic settings, specifying inclusive, safe, and hygienic washrooms in the care sector no longer means having to compromise on style, as Carole Armstrong, marketing manager at DELABIE UK, explains

Design trends from the domestic sector are gaining traction in the commercial care sector, as specifiers recognise the contribution that good design makes to the wellbeing of patients and residents. However, the challenges facing nondomestic washrooms are very different to the domestic setting. Design is only one element of the specification mix. Other considerations include intensity of use, vandal-resistance, user safety, and hygiene. Specialist products are required that will withstand intensive use and stringent cleaning routines, but that will also look good and complement their environment rather than appear too medicalised.

Inclusive washroom design means the ability to accommodate any user, whether they have temporarily, partially, or permanently lost their autonomy. Often the emphasis is on compliance, rather than aesthetics. However, design, comfort, safety, and hygiene are equally important, especially for buildings that must cater for everyone, not just an individual or family group. The obvious solution is to design washrooms that are accessible to all regardless of age, level of mobility, or independence. This means creating an environment which is discreet, non-stigmatising, aesthetically pleasing, and comfortable. Every user will then feel more at ease, whether they are able-bodied, ambulant disabled, wheelchair users, or fully dependent on a carer.

Designing for shared use

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