Impey Mendip shower trays
Oct 07

What Will The Homes Of The Future Look Like?

Matthew

Thinking about how your needs may change over the years is certainly advisable if you’re keen to stay in your home for as long as you possibly can, living independently.

Adapting your house as time goes on can prove particularly beneficial in this regard – and it seems as though this is becoming a key consideration in building design from the outset, with the government having launched a competition to design the homes of the future, featuring low-carbon, age-friendly properties.

The finalists of the Home of 2030 competition have just been announced, in fact, all of which will be introduced to Homes England development partners to explore the possibility of housing on Homes England land. Each of the finalists have received £40,000 in funding to help them develop their plans.

Finalist Studio OPEN, for example, has submitted a project idea that promotes community and caring for people through a central garden shared between four homes, built using locally sourced materials and timber construction methods to help reduce the impact on the environment.

And Openstudio Architects has come up with a plan that includes landscape elements such as small private gardens, a communal green space, front gardens and upper level balconies and terraces, focusing on sustainable, age-friendly environments.

Helen Whately, minister for care, said: “We want everyone, regardless of their age, to lead healthy, active lives in communities that work for them. As the population of the UK ages, our housing and infrastructure must be adaptable to our changing needs.”

Reviewing your own home, bearing in mind how your needs may evolve over time, could be particularly beneficial. Perhaps focus on the bathroom first, which can pose serious health risks if the design isn’t appropriate for older people.

Do you need half height shower doors? Get in touch with Practical Bathing today to see how we can help.

Sep 28

‘More Places Should Apply Design Guidelines For Dementia’

Matthew

It’s important that more of our homes and public spaces are designed to help those with dementia enjoy them and live fulfilled lives.

That’s the opinion of Paola Barbarino, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), who recently told the New Straits Times that dementia designs need to be implemented in the built environment all over the world.

“We need to apply design guidelines and principles for people living with dementia in the same way as design guidelines are provided for people living with physical disability,” Ms Barbarino asserted.

The ADI recently published the world’s most comprehensive report into dementia-related design, with a wide variety of suggestions included, many of which don’t cost a lot of money. The report focuses on simple steps, such as removing hazards, improving wayfinding and reducing stimulation to help reduce anxiety and agitation in those suffering from dementia.

Simply adapted bathrooms are one of the recommendations in the report, along with dementia-friendly outdoor gardens and using traditional cupboard handles in kitchens.

Introducing walk in baths to the bathroom could also be another way to help someone with dementia cope better in their own home.

There is certainly good reason to focus on dementia-friendly design here in the UK, with the Alzheimer’s Society estimating that there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK currently, while that figure is expected to climb to 1.6 million by 2040.

The ADI report also set out a range of principles to follow in relation to dementia-friendly design, which include unobtrusively removing risks and supporting movement and engagement.

Sep 15

Changing Times For Changing Places

Matthew

In the 2020 Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak committed to invest £30million to increase access to Changing Places toilets, and the government plans to work closely with the Changing Places Consortium to identify the sectors where these facilities are needed the most.

Alongside this investment, the UK government also announced major changes to current building regulations for disabled people, and these changes mean that from next year, all new buildings (or majorly refurbished buildings) must have Changing Places toilets. Translation?

Larger accessible toilets with specialist equipment for disabled people, such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for wheelchairs and carers.

From 2021, all places of “assembly, recreation and entertainment with a capacity of 350+” will also be required to install Changing Places toilets. Other public venues included cover arts venues, cinemas, universities, libraries, places of worship, motorway services and museums.

Mark Sadler, a specialist in the field of disabled bathrooms, says there are some challenges: “One of the biggest challenges is when the venue is a listed building as you cannot just start knocking down walls,” he says. “Sometimes it is necessary to place the facility in an adjoining building or a portable unit.”

He went on to say that space can also be an issue with existing buildings, along with finding suitable locations that is accessible for all potential users. “They must be at least 4m x 3m with a ceiling height of at least 2.4m if possible,” he said. “Smaller Changing Places have been approved in the past, but these minimum dimensions are acknowledged as best practice.”

Though there are challenges, this is very positive news and the government is on track to deliver by 2021.

If you’re looking for accessible easy access baths or easy access showers, get in touch with us today.

Sep 09

Financial Support For Disabled People Working From Home

Matthew

The government has announced an extension of the Access to Work scheme, providing extra help for disabled people working from home or in the workplace, with funding now covering taxi fares and public transport costs, as well as the fast-tracking of new applications for grant funding for clinically extremely vulnerable people.

Grant funding is now available for disabled people if they need support to work from home because of coronavirus, used to pay for special equipment or support worker services.

It is also possible to secure mental health support through Access to Work if you’re anxious about staging a return to the office, with a tailored support package available for up to nine months.

The scheme itself was designed to help people stay in employment and, in 2019, it provided personalised support to 36,000 disabled people and others with health conditions, enabling them to continue doing their jobs.

Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people, said: “In these unprecedented times, it is absolutely right that we continue to support disabled people to pursue employment without barriers. This extension of funding and support will help to protect thousands of jobs which provide vital independence allowing disabled people to reach their full potential.”

To be eligible for the scheme, you need to have a disability or a physical or mental health condition that makes it difficult for you to do parts of your job, or to get to and from work. You must be over the age of 16 and either live in England, Scotland or Wales, with Northern Ireland serviced by a different scheme.

Do you need a Bath Buddy bath lift? Get in touch with Practical Bathing to see how we can help.

walk in bath with glass door
Sep 01

Safety A Top Priority For UK Consumers Looking For A New Bathroom

Matthew

It’s fair to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has made many of us re-evaluate our homes in a new light given that we’ve all been spending so much more time in them. If you have been using your bathroom as something of a sanctuary during this period, you’re certainly not alone.

However, there are plenty of people who want a bathroom that is functional and safe too, not just a wellness retreat, as a recent survey showed.

Kbb Review reported on a survey conducted by Explorare on behalf of Grohe, which revealed that over three-quarters of Brits are concerned about the safety of their bathroom. One of the top features they would look for when choosing a bathroom upgrade was a shower surface that doesn’t get hot.

Others said that they would be prepared to invest in a thermostat to even out the temperature of the water that comes out of their shower.

For anyone with mobility issues, creating a safe bathroom is a top priority. Keeping the water temperature even and not too hot is important because it may not be possible to move out of the flow quickly if it becomes too hot, for instance.

There are many other changes you can make to your bathroom to make it safer and more accessible, however, such as installing walk in baths and shower seats.

Earlier this year, Which? highlighted some of the steps that older people can take to ensure they are able to remain independent in their homes for longer.

It noted that bathing is often one of the first activities that becomes challenging as your mobility is restricted and therefore recommended investing in an easy-access bath. Consider also tubs that feature a built-in seat to make it easier for you to both sit in the bath and get out of it once you’ve finished.

Grab rails, although a simple addition, are another one that can make a significant difference to those who are starting to struggle with their mobility or strength.

Another top tip from the consumer rights group is to make sure that you have good lighting in all areas of your home. This could be especially important in the bathroom if you don’t have a source of natural light during the day.

High wattage light bulbs will provide more brightness and therefore make it easier to see what you’re doing, regardless of the time of day. It’s also essential to check that light switches are working and easily accessible to you as you move around your home.

Other basic safety tips include ensuring that you get your boiler serviced each year and that you check your home for trip hazards, such as rugs, loose carpet or uneven floorboards. These are all small elements that you might not ordinarily notice, but as mobility becomes more challenging these can become obstacles that could cause a trip or fall.

If you have an elderly relative or friend who is still living at home, it could be worth talking to them about some simple steps they can take to improve the safety of their home and make it a more comfortable place for them to live in the coming years.

Aug 19

84 Per Cent Want Height-Accessible Sanitising Stations

Matthew

Euan’s Guide, the disability access review site, has published the findings from a survey which asked disabled people about their concerns when visiting venues as the lockdown restrictions were gradually lifted across the UK.

The ‘COVID Concerns and Precautions Survey’, which ran from 18 June to 19 July, quizzed 450 disabled people on their opinions of the lockdown restrictions and the measures and guidance imposed, and how it would affect them.

The survey addressed the concerns disabled people have about visiting places after the lockdown, what precautions would enable safer and easier visits, where they plan to go, and how they plan for their trip, and what online activities they would like to see remain in place.

It included findings for mobility retailers in the UK to implement that would enable disabled people to feel comfortable when returning to stores.

Commenting on the survey findings, Euan MacDonald, Co-Founder of Euan’s Guide, explained that as the lockdown restrictions are eased, the guide wanted to ensure that disabled people felt safe and confident in finding places to visit or return to venues they were already familiar with.

“Venues need to share detailed and up-to-date information on their COVID precautions and disabled access online. This information is useful to anyone and everyone that wants to stay safe after being so cautious in the past few months,” he said.

82 per cent of respondents said that their main concern was people not respecting social distancing guidelines. Nearly three-quarters said that a top concern was unable to get access to public and venue’s toilets when out and about, and having to queue outside venues, especially in unsuitable weather.

One survey participant, on the topic of disabled people being challenged for not wearing face masks, commented: “People not understanding disabilities and hidden disabilities and thinking we are just refusing to wear a mask and not following rules.”

Euan’s guide recently created face mask exemption badges, designed to help disabled people clearly communicate their exemption status to others.

They were also asked about their requirements in stores and venues that could help encourage them to visit safely. 84 per cent concurred that having access to sanitising stations that are at an accessible height would help them returning to venues, and 83 per cent desired an accessible route to allow independent navigation around venues and stores.

Following the findings from the survey, Euan’s Guide has published a number of suggestions that stores and venues could implement to assist disabled people.

The suggestions include reviewing the findings of the survey and carrying out the necessary changes to welcome disabled people back, making sure that any existing COVID precautions do not exclude disabled people, and how venues can improve and continue to provide online services that have helped create opportunities for disabled people that may previously have been inaccessible.

Euan’s Guide also suggests that stores share information about their disability access and coronavirus precautions to further support disabled people.

If you are looking for easy access baths to provide disabled access at home, talk to us today.

Liftseat
Aug 05

South Oxfordshire District Council Increase Disabled Facilities Grant

Matthew

If you or a loved one is living with a disability, it’s important that every care is taken to make sure the bathroom is easily accessible and safe to use. Whether that means creating half height shower doors or installing bath lifts, these bathroom adaptations help make everyday living as comfortable as possible.

And while we take pride in providing an affordable service, you could be entitled to even more support if you live in the South Oxfordshire area, as disabled and vulnerable residents can now apply for larger grants to make their homes safer.

South Oxfordshire District Council has increased the maximum amount payable by £20,000. While it has sat at £30,000, it has now gone up to £50,000 through its Housing Assistance Grants and Loans policy.

So what exactly is the Disabled Facilities Grant? In essence, this is government funding that supporting disabled people to live in their own homes, thereby reducing the need for hospital admissions and residential care.

The grant is for home renovations and adaptations, such as installing bath lifts or walk-in power baths, shower seating or bidet toilet seats—the extent of the renovations depends on your individual needs.

You’ll be paid either in instalments as the work on your home progresses or in full when the work is finished, and it’s completely separate to any disability benefits you already get or may be entitled to. The government website sets out further details on the Disabled Facilities Grant.

As part of the new system, there are also grants available for people living with dementia.

If you’re looking to renovate or adapt your home, we’re here to help you find the right bathroom and make the changes as easy and affordable as possible.

 

Jubilee shower bath
Aug 01

Bathrooms For Elderly Relatives

Matthew

When our elderly relatives can safely and easily use the bathroom on their own, it allows them to age in place, and with dignity. Our seniors might not be registered as disabled, but we all have difficulties as we get older, so designing safe and accessible bathrooms are key to improving their quality of life and granting them independent living.

Slips and falls are the leading cause of accidents in the home, and the bathroom can present a perfect storm of risks. The motions of getting up and down, stepping in and out of bathtubs and showers, bending over at the sink, can be hazardous for anyone, especially the elderly. There are many ways we can improve our homes to make them more accessible.

We have some tips to help our loved elderly relatives retain their independence.

 

1. Install lever taps

A lever tap means less difficulty for the elderly than having to twist and turn traditional taps. There are so many different styles to choose from, even including foot-operated taps.

 

2. Get a sprayer attachment for your shower-head

A detachable showerhead makes bathing easier and eliminates the need to stand in the shower, especially with shower seating.

 

3. Install grab bars and rails

One of the simplest ways to make your bathroom more accessible to add grab bars and rails in the shower, bath, and near the toilet.

 

4. Raise the height of the toilet

Raising the height of the toilet by three inches can make all the difference for the elderly. There are options including a ‘comfort height’ toilet, or you can raise the height of your existing toilet with extra thick toilet seats.

 

5. Non-slip bath mats and rugs

Non-slip mats in the shower prevent the elderly from falling while showering, and a non-slip rug prevents any accidents when getting out of the bath or shower.

 

6. Walk-in baths and showers

If climbing in and out of the tub is difficult for those who are unable to lift their legs as high, walk-in showers and baths are the ideal options.

If you are looking for options for easy access baths and showers, visit our store today.

Jul 30

Oxford Council Calls For Inclusive City Centre

Matthew

Oxford City Centre needs to be made more accessible for disabled residents and visitors as it continues to re-open to the public, according to the local authority and charities.

Earlier this week, Oxford City Council called for more funding from the government to enable the area to be made safer with help of stewards.

Councillor Marie Tidball, cabinet member for support local communities, who is a disabled woman herself, said: “It is essential for the protection of the health of disabled people and their inclusion in our society that measures taken to exit lockdown consider their elevated risk of contracting coronavirus.”

She noted that the council would not be able to raise funds for stewarding itself, which is why it needs further assistance from the government.

This has now received the support of local charities and advocates for disabled people, including Elmore Community Services, My Life My Choice, Oxfordshire Association for the Blind, and Connection Support.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has given the council £134,950 from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund to introduce safety measures, such as signage and one-way systems to help maintain social distancing guidelines.

Overall, the government is providing £50 million from the European Regional Development Fund to councils across England to be able to safely open commercial areas and high streets amid the pandemic.

Twelve stewards have also been placed in the city centre and Cowley Road to manage pedestrian flow and provide people with support on how to use one-way pavement guidance and advice on social distance rules.

However, MHCLG states the council is not eligible to claim funding for these stewards, despite their assistance to disabled people in the city.

To find out more about shower seats for disabled people, get in touch today.

Jul 20

Relaxing Planning Rules ‘Puts Accessible Homes At Risk’

Matthew

A coalition of housing, ageing and disability charities have issued a warning that proposals to relax planning rules could create more problems for the existing shortage of accessible homes in the UK, homes that are safe and suitable for older and disabled people.

The Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition is now calling on the government to resist calls to relax regulations in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, saying in an open letter that the pandemic has revealed just how important it is that people have homes suited to their needs.

If current plans are adhered to, by 2030 there will be one new accessible home built for every 15 people over the age of 65, despite the fact that the UK is facing a huge demographic age shift.

The coalition now wants the government to establish an accessible and adaptable design standard, to be used as the regulatory baseline for all new builds.

Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better said: “Lack of accessible housing is a major problem in the UK, and we must not let the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis distract the government from its mission to build more suitable homes.

“The houses we build today will be with us for decades to come, so it is vital we build for the future – a future in which more of us will live to older ages.”

In fact, a new research has just been launched designed to help social landlords offer support to more of their residents and help them live independently in accessible homes.

Foundations, the national body for home improvement agencies, is investigating how housing associations and others could invest in home adaptations to help those tenants with sight loss and dementia, Home Care Insight reports.

The aim is to help more people carry on living independently in their own homes for as long as possible, with seven themes being explored, including the use of specialist staff, policies and protocols around adaptations, as well as seeing what support is currently being offered to tenants in moving home instead of having properties adapted.

If you’re thinking of adapting your home to make it more comfortable and ensure that you can continue living there for as long as possible, there are lots of changes you can make, both big and small.

Adjustable beds, for example, come with simple controls that can make it easier for you to get in and out of bed, while installing motion sensor lights mean you can reduce the chances of falling in the dark.

In the bathroom, you could opt for easy access baths or shower seats in the shower so you can walk straight in and sit down, also helping to prevent falls. If you’d like any further help or advice, get in touch with the Practical Bathing team today.