Grab rails are safety devices or independent living aids that can be used by the elderly and disabled in order to make bathing and toileting a safer experience. A grab rail can help with balance and support in the bathroom, toileting area or places that are considered as high risk for slipping. With the help of grab rails, the elderly and disabled can maintain independence in relation to bathing, toileting and other activities related to personal hygiene in the bathroom. However, in order for grab rails to be effective, there are common mistakes that must be avoided.
Purchasing the wrong finish
Grab rails are available for purchase in a range of finishes – this is the material and ‘feel’ of the grab rail. One of the most common finishes for grab rails is stainless steel. This finish is sleek, and strong, making it functional for the bathroom. Other finishes include plastic or brass. When deciding on a finish, users may need to consider the colour, and grip that a particular finish provides. For example, if the user is vision impaired, a coloured grab rail may be best for their needs, so that the disability aid is easier to see. If a user isn’t very stable on their feet, a finish (knurled) that provides better grip may be the best option. The finish also determines the way that the grab rail will look in the bathroom, so if the user is concerned about how the grab rail matches up with the design and style of the bathroom, the finish is something that needs to be considered.
Purchasing the wrong shape
Grab rails can be purchased in a range of angles and lengths, and each of them aid the user in a different way. A straight grab rail installed horizontally provides stability when the user is attempting to lower themselves or lift themselves, such as one would do from a toilet. They can also be installed in the shower to provide extra stability to avoid slips. A straight grab rail installed vertically can assist users when stepping up, or pulling themselves up. A 90 degree angled grab rail can aid users in many ways. They provide extra stability in the shower, and can be used to help a user pull themselves up or lower themselves down. A 45-degree angle grab rail provides ongoing stability from a seated position to a standing position, making it a very safe option. It is important that a user knows the area they require assistance with and then chooses a grab rail to suit their needs.
Purchasing the wrong diameter
Grab rails are available in different sizes. In order to be effective, the user must be able to grab the rail properly, and hold on. If a grab rails diameter is too thick, it may result in the user not being able to gain a strong grip on it, reducing the safety of the aid. However, if the diameter of the rail is too small, it may strain the user’s hand, and make it difficult to maintain their grip. The standard grab rail size is approximately 32mm, which is suitable for most users. Grab rails should be comfortable to grip at all times for the user to ensure that safety is maintained throughout.
Purchasing a grab rail that doesn’t suit the user’s needs
Due to the fact that there are so many different grab rails on the market, it can be difficult to assess exactly what will best fit the needs of the user. Many grab rails that are available have different features that can increase the usability or functionality of the aid without sacrificing the safety of it. For example, grab rails are available with built-in towel racks or toilet paper holders so that the aid blends into the bathroom with more ease and the aid has a dual function. Grab rails that have motion sensor LED lights in them can increase the visibility of the aid for vision-impaired users or elderly users who may have difficulty seeing clearly in low lighting.
Purchasing a grab rail that can’t be installed safely
A common mistake that people can make is to purchase a grab rail that can’t be installed properly within a users space, or simply installing the grab rail incorrectly. In order to ensure that a grab rail can be installed correctly and safely within a user’s bathroom, there are some important things that need to be considered. These include the material of the wall that the grab rail will be installed on, where the studs are located within the wall, and what types of fittings are best for the user’s walls. For safe installation, it is best that a tradesman undertakes the job especially when a metal grab rail is being used and earthing is required.
Successful grab rail purchase
For a safe grab rail purchase it is essential to conduct research into exactly what kind of disability aid is necessary for the users space. Grab rails are excellent aids to ensure that elderly and disabled users can maintain their safety and independence while bathing.