With multigenerational living on the rise, Housing Association properties must accommodate the varying needs of residents of a range of ages and abilities. Daniel Ward, Senior Ceramics Product Manager for Twyford, looks at the options in the bathroom; ensuring independence and inclusivity for all.
Housing Association properties need to deliver on a number of levels, meeting the needs of the variety of tenants that may walk through their doors, with robust, cost-effective yet quality products installed to withstand often high volumes of traffic. With the bathroom so essential to everyone, choosing solutions that are accessible and practical is very important. This is particularly relevant where more than one generation is living under the same roof - recent research* suggests households containing two or more families will rise from 1.5 million to 2.2 million by 2025.
Apart from the nuts and bolts of sanitation, other considerations, such as storage or easier cleaning, will make life easier for occupants.
The first consideration for any bathroom is its accessibility; can it be used by most people? Can the basin be reached, the taps be turned on, is washing (bath or shower) safe and simple, and is getting on and off the WC an easy task? Basic but essential elements that will help tenants keep safe and those with mobility issues maintain their independence.
- Taps: Choose thermostatic, lever taps that are easy to turn on for young or arthritic fingers and prevent scalding.
- Showers: In general, showers are easier to access than baths. Flush to the floor shower trays will prevent slipping and the incorporation of a seat is a great option for anyone unable to stand for long periods of time.
- Baths: Baths featuring head rests, seats and a wider edge (ideal for a parent or carer to sit on) will improve washing options for the very young and elderly.
- Basins: Short projection, wide basins are easier to access by wheelchair users, as well as looking modern and stylish. When incorporated with short projection cupboard space underneath, easy-access storage is also covered.
- WCs: Comfort height WCs are a great option for those with mobility issues and are far easier to get on and off if in a wheel chair, making no difference to able bodied users.
- Flooring: Choose non-slip, textured flooring to prevent unnecessary falls.
Beyond safety and usability concerns, a bathroom that works well for multiple occupants of varying ages and abilities must have storage at its core. Everyone needs their own space and by including well-thought out options to tidy away toiletries, the room will appear less cluttered and be easier to clean.
However cramped the conditions, there is usually some form of storage that can incorporated. Tall, tower units, for example, make use of the unused space up the wall, providing multiple shelves so all the family can have their own. In addition, storage can be included under basins, in the recess under the bath and even in movable stools.
Practicality also extends to how easy the room is to clean; a particular concern for vulnerable tenants. Promoting ‘easy cleaning’ is also something landlords will support, helping to encourage residents to keep properties in good order. When it comes to the WC, an area most associated with germs, Rimfree toilets, which were originally developed to meet the stringent demands on healthcare buildings, are an ideal solution.
Wall-hung WCs, basins and even furniture are the direction modern bathrooms are moving, offering stylistic as well as practical benefits. By removing pedestals, floor-standing pans and legs, dust and germs have nowhere to collect and cleaning around and underneath them is easy. Combining Rimfree technology with wall-hung is the perfect combination.
With an aging population, rising house prices, rents and tuition fees forcing young people to stay at home for longer and the benefits of ‘live-in’ babysitters for working parents, multigenerational living is a trend that’s set to endure. Housing Associations have a commitment to meet the requirements of the changing family, while keeping tenants safe. By choosing quality, fit for purpose solutions, bathrooms will not only last longer, they will hopefully also be respected.