Showering for public buildings
If showering facilities are provided in a public building at least one shower should suit a wheelchair user. Building Regulations Approved Document M, The Disability Discrimination Act and British Standard BS8300 should all be considered during design and specification stages.
Key Points to consider
• A choice of shower layout combined with the correct locations of shower controls and fittings will allow disabled people to use the facilities independently.
• A shelf positioned to be reachable from either the shower seat or wheelchair for storage of toiletries should be included.
• Artificial limb and sports wheelchair lockers should be provided to all competitive sports changing and showering areas.
• Drop down support rails and a wall mounted slip resistant tip-up seat should be provided.
• An emergency assistance pull cord/alarm system must be installed within easy reach.
• Floors within showering areas should be self draining and slip resistant.
• An area for drying
Where changing facilities are associated with showering some disabled people will be content to use changing and shower areas that are openwhilst others will require the privacy offered by self-contained cubicles. These cubicles must take into account manoeuvrability and room for assistance.
Low access shower trays/cubicles
For many people with reduced mobility, showering is much easier than bathing, and can be achieved more independently.
TRAYS There are a range of shower trays which are designed with a low height entrance threshold. This provides an easy walk into the shower and is also easily accessible using a mobile chair.
There are a wide range of sizes of trays available and some types may be cut to size. The size installed will depend on the space available and the requirements of the individual and carers. A person requiring the use of a mobile shower chair will require more space.
Shower trays must be sturdy enough to support the combined weight of the user and chair. A non-slip surface is also important.
Some trays are available with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal protection built-in, to assist with infection control.
ENCLOSURES Doors and / or curtains complete the enclosure. Half-height doors allow a carer to assist with washing, while protecting them from getting wet. Many installations combine half-height doors with a curtain for more privacy.
Contrasting colours of handles and hinges will be helpful (and are a requirement) for visually-impaired users.
Instantaneous Electric Showers
Thermostatically controlled electric showers are widely available and are essential for use in public areas. Many now also have a built-in safety cut-out, so that if the water temperature rises above a pre-set level, the flow will stop completely, preventing the user from being scalded.
More sophisticated products can be pre-programmed to run at a particular temperature, so the user doesn't have to touch the controls once the water is running.
An audible high temperature warning is also useful for anyone with visual impairment.