Indiana 1 bath
Nov 15

What Is Universal Home Design?


Throughout our lifetime, our needs will inevitably change from the time we were babies with no independence at all through to adulthood where we are more capable of taking care of ourselves. As time goes on and we get older, our needs will likely change once again, with the chances of us experiencing mobility issues increasing as we age.

Of course, it’s not just age that can have an impact on how well we’re able to live in our own homes, with injury and illness also potentially placing restrictions on us in this regard as well.

This is where universal home design can really come into its own, ensuring that the houses we live in are built with accessibility in mind from the outset, rather than having to make adjustments over time in line with our changing needs.

Building properties that include features to enable easy adaptation makes sense, given that change is absolutely inevitable – and doing so can ensure that people are able to continue living in their homes for as long as possible, retaining their independence as they age.

But it’s not just what’s inside the home that will facilitate this. The location of the property is also key and ensuring that properties are either close to local amenities like healthcare sites, shops, leisure and recreation, and so on is also essential to help people age in place.

And, of course, material choice should also be taken into account at the design stage to help ensure that our homes keep us healthy and don’t have an adverse effect. Building good-quality properties are more energy efficient, for example, and have better ventilation, which means they’re less likely to be affected by damp, mildew and mould.

Currently, the majority of homes are built to suit the needs of active adults, but this can prove dangerous after a certain point – but this is where the concept of universal design can provide a solution, a term first coined by architect Ronald L Mace.

The idea here is that everything from the building and the environment to technology and products should be attractive and practical for the widest range of people possible, no matter what their individual abilities are, or their age, gender or physicality.

For older people, it’s possible to use the principles of this design concept to review and update their current home or build something entirely bespoke that serves both their present and future needs, all at the same time.

For example, home features could include the likes of wider doorways, height-adjustable counters, grab bars in bathrooms, shower seating, lever handles on doors and taps, walk-in showers, easy access storage areas, good lighting systems and so on.

Even some of the smallest changes can make a big difference to our ability to stay at home as we get older, ensuring ease of use and improving our level of comfort, independence and quality of life, while also helping to reduce the risk of accidents at home.

Asian Elderly Old Woman Patient Use Toilet Support Rail In Bathr
Oct 25

Installing Grab Rails In The Bathroom


Making your home more accessible is an excellent idea as you get older so that you can continue to age in place and stay in familiar, comfortable surroundings, living independently for as long as possible.

There are lots of different adaptations you can make that will help accommodate you as your needs change and one of the best places to focus on is the bathroom, as this room represents a very real health and safety risk, since it features potentially slippery surfaces and various water sources.

While you can make significant investments in products like walk-in baths and easy access showers, there are smaller adaptations that can be carried out first if you’re not quite ready for such big changes.

Grab rails, for example, can make your bathroom safer quickly and affordably, so this would perhaps be a good place to start if you are worried that your physical requirements are starting to evolve.

There are different types of grab rail you can install depending on your mobility needs. Horizontal rails, for example, can be used next to both baths and showers, fitted at an angle to help you push yourself up from sitting, or giving you the support you need to lower yourself down. These rails can also be positioned near seats, as well as the toilet.

Vertical rails, meanwhile, can help you pull yourself into a standing position, as well as giving you additional support while in the shower. And for those of you with weak or painful wrists and arms, you may want to consider an inclined rail. These allow you to spread your forearm out across the length of the rail, helping to give you more support.

In terms of positioning, think about how you use the bath or shower. If you have a shower head over the bathtub, using a vertical rail on the wall near the tap end can be useful. If you have a separate shower cubicle, you can improve safety standards by installing a vertical rail at the entrance so you can get in and out easily.

And if you’ve had to have a shower seat installed, you may find it useful to add a horizontal grab rail alongside the seat to help you get up and down, as well as to prevent you from sliding off.

Of course, this is only a very brief guide to home accessibility products and it’s important to make decisions based on your own personal needs, as well as physical factors like height and weight in order to work out where best to position your rails.

If you need any further help or advice, get in touch with the Practical Bathing team today to find out more about making your home more accessible.

Workers Are Laying The Floor With Large Tiles. A Worker Puts A L
Oct 10

7 Safety Tips To Avoid Slips & Trips


With the cold weather starting to put in an appearance once again, it’s vital that you do all you can to keep yourself safe in treacherous conditions. This time of year, while beautiful, can pose a serious health risk, especially for people above a certain age who may be more susceptible to slips, trips and falls.

Interestingly, research shows that cold indoor environments can have an impact on physical performance and strength, particularly in older people who may be more frail. Reduced physical performance is an acknowledged risk factor for falls, so keeping the house warm at this time of year could prove beneficial in preventing accidents at home.

One of the best ways to prevent falls is to make sure that you always wear secure shoes that fit you well and aren’t loose. If you don’t want to wear shoes in the house, make sure that your slippers fit you properly and aren’t old or fraying. 

The same goes for socks if you’d prefer to wear those… just make sure that they’re the right size and not too big, with rubber grips on the soles and no excess material flapping around. You want to make sure that your feet are kept nice and warm during cold snaps, while not putting yourself at risk of falling.

Looking out for trip hazards can also make a big difference to ensuring safety at home, not just in the winter but at all times of the year. Places like the living room, where there are likely to be rugs, can be hazardous, so make sure that any carpets and rugs are well fitted to the floor, not rumpled or coming away at the edges.

Similarly, if you have a bath mat in the bathroom, make sure that it’s hung up or draped over the side of the bath so you don’t accidentally slip on it. 

You may also find that you want to keep the shower running for longer during the winter months, which can make these spaces incredibly steamy, hindering visibility, so always use the extractor fan to clear the steam quickly.

Staying active is another way you can help protect your health during the winter. It can be tempting to bunker down under a cosy blanket until the spring, but getting out and about will make you stronger and help maintain muscle strength, balance and flexibility, so you’re less likely to fall. 

Even performing small exercises at home can make a big difference in this regard, such as doing a series of toe raises while you’re doing the washing-up, or doing sit to stand exercises during ad breaks while watching TV.

By making a few simple changes at home, you may significantly reduce the risks of slips, trips and falls at this time of year. If you’d like any further help or advice relating to personal safety and how you can make home adaptations to further protect your wellbeing, get in touch with the Practical Bathing team today.

senior man Prevent Falls At Home - bidet seats
Sep 28

Can AI Help Prevent Falls At Home?


As we get older, our homes can start to represent a health and safety risk if we’re not careful – which is why it can be beneficial to consider making various home adaptations over time so that any changes in needs can be accommodated. 

This then allows us to stay in our homes for as long as possible, enjoying our independence and retaining a level of control over our lives, even as our circumstances evolve.

One of the biggest fears that older people have is slips, trips and falls, with recent research from Age UK showing that 36 per cent of those over the age of 65 consider falling over their top concern.

And this is hardly a surprise, given the fact that falling contributes significantly to hip fractures, many of which are preventable. These injuries can have serious consequences for older people and, in fact, falls are the most common cause of injury-related deaths in those over 75 years old.

Of course, this is a huge cause for concern but the good news is that we live in the 21st century and the digital age, which means there’s a huge amount of different technology at our disposal that can be used to help keep us safe at home as we age.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and its many different benefits is the serious talk of the town right now and its various applications are increasingly being lauded in a raft of different arenas.

Where personal safety at home is concerned, there’s a growing body of research that suggests AI could be of particular use, so if you are getting older and want to protect yourself as much as you can, it could certainly be worth looking into.

A recent pilot of AI monitors in residential care homes saw the number of nighttime falls drop by over half, with a 20 per cent fall in hospital admissions as a result, as well. Furthermore, a 75 per cent reduction in the number of unnecessary in-person checks at night by staff members was also seen, freeing up their time to devote to care elsewhere.

And back in August, social care provider and health tech firm Cera is now making use of AI in its SmartCare app, which it says now enables it to predict whether people will fall at home a week before accidents actually happen with 83 per cent accuracy.

It’s thought that if this technology was used by all people over the age of 65 receiving social care in England, the new AI model could predict approximately 10,000 fall-related hospitalisations annually, which would have a significant impact on the NHS.

At home, you can help protect yourself from slips, trips and falls by using sensors in at-risk places like the bathroom. These work by detecting changes in movement patterns, which can predict future falls or send out alerts if you do take a tumble. 

Alternatively, you could consider wearing a device on your wrist that is able to detect movements like walking, running and standing, with data collected and analysed to detect changes related to your daily activities so that any falls can be detected.

AI aside, there are lots of other home adaptations you can make that will allow you to age in place. If you’d like to find out how to make your bathroom at home safer, get in touch with the Practical Bathing team today to see how we can help.

half height shower door happy seniors
Sep 13

Retirement Development Prioritises Happiness For Elderly People!


A new retirement development in Failsworth, a town in the Manchester borough of Oldham, is now underway, with the aim being to help older people lead happier, healthier lives, enjoying their retirement years to the fullest.

According to the Oldham Times, retirement property development company McCarthy Stone is behind the vision for the ‘happier, healthier’ project, which will see financial assistance provided to various local community groups to help support people’s wellbeing and ensure they can continue to live independently for as long as possible.

Part of the plans will include a new development on Ashton Road west, which is due to be completed by autumn next year. 

This will feature various low-maintenance, affordable and energy-efficient privately owned apartments for those over the age of 60, complete with all the necessary amenities within very close proximity, as well as beautiful countryside walks and communal shared spaces.

McCarthy Stone is currently looking for residents to take on voluntary advisor roles to help ensure that the new project aligns with community needs and the future residents of the apartments. These advisors will have influence over how funding is distributed, working towards making positive impacts in the community.

Business development manager Declan Fishwick said: “This development is the first of its kind in Oldham so we thought what better way to plan our community activities than to involve members of the public directly, so they can help us by highlighting some of the unsung heroes within the Oldham community where the funding could have the most positive difference to the lives of older people.

“Equally, this could be a fantastic way to build long-term relationships with the causes and groups themselves, which can be very fulfilling and rewarding too.”

There’s a raft of different benefits associated with ageing in place and living independently, everything from boosting your confidence and self-esteem to giving you greater control over your life. 

Making your home accessible and adapting it over time in line with your evolving needs will be key in this regard, so get in touch with us today if you’d like to find out about bathroom adaptations including half height shower doors, bath lifts, shower seats and so on.

gas bill - walk in baths disability baths
Sep 05

Are You Eligible For The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Fund?


The Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) Alternative Fund was initially set up to provide £400 to those households that receive their energy supply indirectly, whether that’s through a site owner, a landlord or some other intermediary.

However, new research from charity Age UK suggests that the initiative hasn’t been as successful as initially hoped, failing to reach almost four out of five eligible households… meaning that over half a million properties have missed out, including more than 250,000 people living in care homes.

Figures show that there are an estimated 883,000 eligible households in the UK that have atypical energy supply arrangements, but only 17 per cent of these (approximately 150,000 households) were awarded the £400 this year.

As a result, the Treasury is set to receive £300 million in unspent funds, but Age UK is now calling on the government to overhaul the scheme and run it again so as to benefit those in need this winter as the cost of living crisis continues to take hold.

The charity is also keen for the money to be paid out automatically wherever possible, rather than people having to put in a claim to gain access to the support. Over the long term, Age Uk wants to see a social tariff introduced to ensure that vulnerable people always receive discounts on energy bills.

Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “The need for this extra funding certainly hasn’t gone away and that’s why we think the government should try again to get the money out to everyone in line for it, rather than giving it up as a bad job, to the benefit of Treasury coffers but at the expense of older people in need. It’s not too late for ministers to act and we very much hope they will.”

It’s likely that this winter will be as difficult as last year’s, which means that millions of households will struggle if no support is put in place now, with many older people facing serious hardship over the coming months.


Are you looking for disability baths at the moment? Get in touch with Practical Bathing today to see how we can help.

Aug 29

Inquiry Launched Into Accessible Housing


A new inquiry entitled Disabled People in the Housing Sector has just been launched by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee to see what government action can be taken in order to ensure that disabled people are able to find accessible and adaptable housing in England.

The review also plans to examine just how much progress has been made since the findings of the recent accessibility standards consultation were published in July last year.

Committee chair Clive Betts explained that there are now many disabled people living in properties that are neither accessible nor adapted, something that applies to those looking for social housing, who are looking to buy or who are looking in the private rental sector, all of whom are struggling to find suitable housing that meets their specific needs.

He went on to say: “We want to examine what government can do to ensure disabled residents have access to accessible and adaptable housing in England and how far the planning system is helping to deliver suitable homes.

“We’re also keen to explore the role of government, local councils and developers in delivering suitable housing for people with disabilities and what the government can do to support disabled tenants in the private rented sector in England.”

This comes after a recent study carried out by the Foundations Independent Living Trust found that adapted and accessible homes can deliver improvements in mobility and overall wellbeing, as well as other physical benefits, for both older and disabled people.

If properties are made more accessible, it can increase feelings of independence and self-respect, the research revealed, while ensuring that people are able to maintain a sense of purpose and identity.

Aug 14

The Benefits Of Bidet Toilet Seats For Older People


As you get older, you may find that going to the bathroom gets a little trickier and you find it harder to carry out your usual routine, whether that’s down to mobility issues, stiffness, weakness, balance concerns or something else.

Accepting that your needs are going to change with age is half the battle won and the good news is that there are lots of different bathroom adaptations you can make that will ensure you can continue to live independently and with dignity for as long as possible.

One accessibility installation that may be of particular interest is the bidet toilet seat, which allows you to maintain hygiene levels with ease after bowel movements without having to use your hands.

The facility features a wand beneath the toilet bowl that sprays a stream of clean water for cleansing purposes. This means you no longer have to bend or twist your body into awkward positions, which can lead to slips, falls and potential injury if you’re not careful.

Safety aside, you can also enjoy greater levels of hygiene by using a bidet and also potentially reduce the risks of urinary tract infections as a result. You can also protect your increasingly delicate skin since you no longer have to use toilet paper.

It’s important to note that these products differ from traditional freestanding bidets, which you would typically find next to your normal toilet. These devices can simply be attached to your current toilet, so there’s no need to worry about having to renovate your bathroom in order to enjoy the convenience and safety features they bring.

These products can also make it easier for caregivers assisting with toileting and personal hygiene each day, so it’s certainly worth investigating to see if it’s right for you. If you’d like any further help or advice, get in touch with Practical Bathing today.

Nurse-community-disability baths and walk-in showers
Aug 02

Call Issued To Join Up Home & Community-Based Elderly Care


Charity Age UK has issued a call to move away from being overly reliant on acute hospital-based care for older people and focus more on prevention and early intervention.

This, the organisation believes, will enable older people to stay fit and healthy while living independently at home, or within a care home setting, something that would be beneficial for them while also reducing pressure on hospitals around the country.

Its State of Health and Care of Older People In England 2023 report has revealed that the health and care system is struggling and often failing to meet the needs of the ageing population. It was found that in 2021/22 there were 4.8 million attendances in A&E by older people, while attendance rates among the over-80s rose by 40 per cent between 2012 and 2021.

Furthermore, in 2019/20, there were 855,000 emergency hospital admissions that could have been avoided if the right care had been provided at the right time.

To address the situation, the charity is keen to see strong government leadership and a drive across the NHS and local authorities to ensure that small health problems are treated earlier before they develop into something bigger that requires urgent clinical support.

The report is calling for a strategic push to reverse the decline of primary and community health services and social care. In addition, it wants to see more community-based services developed and joined up to include healthcare professionals and those in the voluntary sector all working closely together.

And a ‘home first’ principle should be adopted as the foundation of the country’s approach to health and social care in the future.

Age UK chief executive Paul Farmer said: “It’s clear that we need services to reach out to older people much sooner, particularly those living at home, quite often alone, whose health is fragile or declining.

“This would not only be great news for older people, and their families, providing much needed reassurance, it would be cost-effective too. And it would go a long way to relieving the enormous pressure on hospitals as well.”

Charity director Caroline Abrams made further comments, saying one key strategy will be the development of an ambitious social care workforce plan that rewards the contributions of care staff and recognises the valuable work they do.

Enabling people to remain in their homes for as long as possible, retaining their dignity and independence comes with all sorts of benefits, everything from boosting their confidence and self-esteem to improving their quality of life, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness, fostering a sense of empowerment and so on.

One of the best ways to facilitate ageing in place is to make home adaptations that take into account your changing needs. These can range from disability baths and walk-in showers to grab rails, non-slip mats, wider doorways, lower countertops and downstairs bathrooms.

The necessary changes will depend on what your specific requirements are and these may change over time, so maintaining a flexible approach could ensure that you’re able to stay in your home for as long as possible.

Jul 25

6 Top Tips For Ageing In Place


There are all sorts of benefits associated with living independently and ageing in place, staying in your own home as long as you can, ranging from boosting your confidence and self-esteem to giving you greater choice over your own life, enjoying a greater level of control of what happens – all from the comfort of familiar surroundings.

However, it’s important to recognise that your needs may well change as you get older and if you want to continue living at home as you age, you will need to engage in appropriate consideration and planning to ensure that you’re able to retain your independence over the years.

If you are worried about your safety at home and your ability to get around or carry out daily activities, there are a few changes and adaptations you can make that will ensure your home is easier and safer for you to live in.

For example, you could remove any and all area rugs and ensure that all carpeting is properly fixed to the floor so as to reduce the risks of slips, trips and falls. This can also be achieved through the use of non-skin mats and no-slip strips on tiles and wooden floors, or any other surfaces that may get wet, such as those in the kitchen and bathroom.

Another option is to replace the handles on your doors and windows so that you have easy-to-use ergonomic options that take into account changes in manual dexterity and conditions like arthritis.

One of the most dangerous places in the house for older people is, of course, the bathroom and, as such, this may be the best place to focus your attention first. You could consider installing the likes of grab bars in the shower and near the toilet. Other options include the installation of walk in shower baths that can make bathing more accessible.


If you’d like to find out more about how to improve bathroom safety and accessibility as you get older, get in touch with Practical Bathing today to see how we can help.