Multi-generational bathrooms


Yiota Toumba at Ideal Standard shares her thoughts on how to create residential bathrooms that cater to everyone, regardless of age or mobility

The UK’s population is ageing, and around one in five people are now 65 or over. With that number expected to grow significantly over the next decade, it’s vital that the homes we’re developing today will provide adequate support for people tomorrow.

Building or upgrading bathrooms to be more accessible and comfortable for less mobile residents is one of the most impactful steps developers and housing managers can take. This will both greatly improve the quality of life for residents and increase a property’s value.

When it comes to adapting bathrooms for the infirm or those residents with reduced mobility, there’s a lot to consider – from temperature to extra support, to anti-slip measures. Safety needs to be the ultimate priority, but you still need to create a space that is attractive and supports people in maintaining their independence.

There is a range of specialised bathroom products available on the market created for those with less mobility in mind, which can offer a sleek look and feel as well as an additional level of support.


Standing in the shower can be a difficult experience for many with less mobility, which is why baths are more likely to be an important feature in their homes.

Baths that are made with lower edges than standard and come with reinforced ledges provide an additional level of support.

These will allow users to comfortably sit down when they need to and make it much easier for them to get in and out of the bath as they can sit on the side and manoeuvre at their own speed.


At the same time, there are many who also find lying down in a bath difficult, in which case a tailored showering set-up is required. When looking for an accessible showering range, it’s important to consider the entire system to create a comfortable experience for the end-users. This may include systems that come with supportive rails and shower chairs built-in, allowing users to sit down and rest while they shower.

Wet rooms are another option, providing easy access and usability, with users able to get in and out without needing to overcome any height difference between the floor and a shower tray.

Preventing scalding

One of the most notable and preventable dangers in bathrooms is scalding, which should always be considered when choosing fittings for homes where children, elderly or less mobile people live.

One of the best ways to eliminate scalding is to make use of taps and showers fitted with thermostats. Thermostats ensure that the water exiting the fitting will not exceed a pre-set temperature. They work by sensing any changes in temperature and moving an internal piston accordingly which alters the proportion of hot and cold water being mixed in the valve.

It’s not just the water exiting exposed fittings that can result in scalding for end-users. Brassware itself will heat up very quickly if designed poorly. When you choose exposed fittings for housing catering to elderly people, you should make sure they have some form of insulative properties designed into them.

Reducing slipping

Another important factor to consider is how to minimise the risk of slipping. You can never eliminate the danger completely, but you can help to reduce the chance of slipping by making better choices when it comes to the products you put into these environments. Installing grab rails in shower cubicles and baths and around basins can significantly help reduce the risks, providing further support and confidence to users.

Today, there are also effective surfaces and finishes that manufacturers apply to baths and shower trays that cut down on slipping. These products should be approved and certified in accordance with the TUV tests. These are the best-known slip resistant standards, conducted in Germany against DIN 51097.

If you’re unsure of the slip resistance capabilities of the products you’re putting in your bathrooms, get in touch with the manufacturer to enquire directly. They should be able to provide quick and reliable guidance.

Higher WCs are also much easier to use for those with mobility issues and reduce the pressure on people’s knees, helping people maintain their independence. Brightly coloured toilet seats may also be a good idea for those who suffer from visual impairments, helping WCs stand out more.

With an ageing population to cater for, it’s vital for everyone involved in the development of future and existing housing stock to consider the needs of tomorrow when creating or renovating bathrooms. By doing so, they can play a big role in giving people their day-to-day independence and improving their quality of life.

Yiota Toumba is senior designer at Ideal Standard