Carole Armstrong, Marketing & Communications Manager at Delabie shares expert comments on care home accessibility and leaning towards a more design-led approach.

The “design for all” trend is removing the boundaries between washroom facilities that are designed specifically for people with reduced mobility, and the bathrooms that we see in the average domestic setting.

Designed for shared use

Whether elderly, disabled or temporarily incapacitated, people with reduced mobility aspire to remain independent. Typically, sanitary ware and accessories designed for people with reduced mobility are designed by occupational therapists to ensure safety, compliance and hygiene. The design brief tends to cater for visual or cognitive impairments but rarely considers aesthetics.

However, in recent years manufacturers have placed a greater importance on design. Improved aesthetics help to erase the medical and sometimes stigmatising aspect of accessible bathrooms, focussing on user well-being and not just practicalities.

Showers, taps, washbasins, furniture, shower seats and grab bars… the new generation of accessible products appeal to both private individuals and those responsible for public buildings – who are now more attentive to comfort and well-being, and more sensible to the fluidity of shapes and the choice of materials.

Be-Line®: designed to please

Creating attractive designs is an essential part of product development at DELABIE. The Be-Line® range of grab bars and lift-up shower seats is no exception, accessible to all regardless of age, level of mobility or independence. They help to create a neutral environment which is discreet, non-stigmatising, aesthetically-pleasing and comfortable. Every user will then feel more at ease, whether they are able-bodied, ambulant disabled, wheelchair users or fully dependent on a carer. Designed to provide safety and comfort, these accessories also contribute to making the shared use of washrooms pleasant for all.

The Be-Line® aluminium grab bars have a flat, ergonomic face which prevents rotation and allows a firm, natural hold. If the bar’s profile is too angular, the hand cannot grasp the bar properly. Similarly, if the diameter is too small or too large, the forearm muscle is activated rather than the shoulder muscle, placing unnecessary strain on the user. A further advantage of Be-Line’s sleek, stylish lines is that they are easy to keep clean and maintain, guaranteeing the aesthetic is maintained and ensuring good hygiene standards.

Safety first

Be-Line® shower seats are also designed to improve hygiene. Their simple, clean lines have no niches where bacteria and dirt can build-up.  The seat profile allows water to drain away, avoiding pooling since standing water, especially soapy water, provides a slip hazard and encourages bacterial growth.

When lowered, the folding shower seat is supportive thanks to comfortable dimensions, while its clean lines make it discreet, allowing it to blend into its environment when raised. One simple movement allows it to be removed and replaced by a shower shelf – practical for those places where a swift change-over is required, for example in hotels or hospitals.

Available in two finishes (matt white or metallised anthracite), the Be-Line® range guarantees a good visual contrast between the accessories and the walls, while matching all bathroom styles.

Adapted washrooms in non-domestic environments no longer need to compromise on aesthetics. It is possible to incorporate stylish designs that will withstand intensive use while upholding user safety and hygiene standards. In environments subject to intensive use, attractive products and well-maintained fixtures are more likely to elicit respect from users. There is no compromise on functionality or ergonomics, ensuring safety and promoting user well-being.