The bathroom is also a very important room in the house and should be easily accessible. Organising the bathroom to make it as safe as possible for the user is paramount.
If you have any difficulties in using the bathroom or toilet, consider a functional assessment to determine your particular needs. There may be ways using equipment and modifications to save energy and make life safer and easier for you. A comprehensive assessment will also determine other areas of need which you may have. See Resources Guide.
De-clutter as much as possible to minimise the chance of tripping over things.
Group frequently used items within easy reach to save reaching up high or bending down low.
Sit on a stool, place one hand onto something firm, such as the edge of the bench top, when bending over to pick up things from the floor. Less energy is used this way than when bending from an upright position.
A long handled pick up stick may be useful for reaching items that are too high or too low. See Resources Guide.
A long reach back brush/scratcher may help you wash your back where it is difficult to reach. The brush also assists in massaging and stimulating blood circulation, as well as helping to remove dead skin.
Ensure adequate lighting at night to allow you to read labels on jars, bottles and packets without
straining your eyes.
Ensure adequate ventilation through windows or extraction fans to ease breathing and avoid build up of steam in the bathroom.
Be careful not to shower or bathe in water that is too hot or for too long if you are heat intolerant. Adjust water temperature to moderately warm, i.e. to a comfortable feel against the skin.
Having a shower
The need for properly positioned grab rails in the shower, bathroom or toilet should be assessed by an Occupational Therapist. See Resources Guide.
Make sure you have everything you need handy prior to showering.
A waterproof shower stool or chair with back and side support placed inside the shower is an essential item if you are unable to stand long enough to have a shower. The stool or chair will provide support, stability, and safety, allowing you to enjoy the shower.
Place a non-slip mat inside the shower as well as outside to prevent falls.
A hand held shower hose will allow more flexibility and ease in directing water over the body with minimal effort.
Direct water jet away from the body to minimise the risk of scalding when adjusting the hot or cold taps.
Dry yourself in the shower while sitting down before emerging. Leave drying your feet to last, just before slipping them into something comfortable. Always hold on to the arms of the shower chair or grab rails to push yourself into a standing position before stepping out of the shower onto a non-slip mat.
If you are unsteady on your feet, you may need to sit on a stool to dress yourself.
If your shower is a fitting over the bath, then a bath seat specifically designed to fit across the bath will be needed for showering. Again, a handheld shower hose will be more easy to use. Sit on the end of the bath seat, lift your legs one at a time over the edge of the bath into it, then using a sliding motion, position yourself in the middle of the bath seat to shower.
Getting out of the bath is just the opposite to getting in. Turn off taps, slide across to edge of bath seat, towel dry as much as possible, lift legs one at a time over the edge of the bath onto a non-slip mat, then hold onto something firm before standing up and moving to sit on a stool to dry your feet.
Having a bath
Getting into and out of the bath safely can be quite a challenge. If there is pain, muscle weakness, and low energy levels, then having a shower instead may be less exhausting.
If you are having any difficulties getting into or out of the bath, a referral to an Occupational Therapist through your doctor or community health service in your local area for an assessment would be advisable. The Occupational Therapist will assess your needs, help with installation of grab rails, purchase and adapt any other equipment necessary, to enable you to have a bath safely and with minimum effort. Grab rails can be fitted onto the edge of the bath, or on the wall, at the correct height and angle for support and stability for standing up and stepping in and out of the bath. See Resources Guide.
Council Home Help
Contact your local council and ask to speak to the Intake Worker for services such as Household Assistance, Meals-on-Wheels, Personal Carer (help with showering, etc), Home Maintenance. Assisted Transport Services (for the frail, aged, or disabled).
Independent Living Centre (Brooklyn)
Phone: (03) 9362 6111, Freecall: 1800 686 533 (Victorian Country)
Ask to speak to an Occupational Therapist for assistance and advice.
Victorian Aids and Equipment Program
A Victorian Government Program providing subsidised aids, equipment, and home modifications to support independent living. Brochure is available in a range of languages. Contact Department of Human Services Regional Intake and Response Service:
Freecall: 1800 783 783
Local Community Health Service in your area
Can assist with a range of services including Podiatry, Physiotherapy, Dietitian, Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, Counselling and social activities.