Aug 30

Grab Bars are one of the most popular safety items for the bathroom. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations while adding form and function to one of the most popular rooms in the home. Here are 7 Grab Bar Installation Tips that we’ve discovered over the years.

There are two main areas of the bathroom where grab bars are necessary: the toilet area and the shower/bath area.

1. Whenever possible, position a grab bar within reach of the strongest side of the body. If the grab bar user has limited mobility in the left arm, a grab bar within reach of the right arm is preferred.

Grab Bar Installation

2. The grab bar installation height is important. The user should be comfortable with the position of the grab bar next to the toilet and in the shower. In the first photo, the toilet uses a Toilevator raised toilet base that adds 3.5 inches to the height of the toilet. If the grab bar is installed before raising the toilet, the grab bar height won’t be appropriate. Raise the toilet first and THEN install the grab bars.

The same is true for the grab bars in the shower. The second photo shows a shower bench that will be used for sitting in the shower. If at all possible, place the shower bench in the shower first and THEN position the grab bars to the best height for standing up and sitting down on the bench. This applies to any shower seats.

3. If the wall is too far away from the toilet, consider using Fold Down Grab Bars that attach to the wall behind the toilet. These come in various lengths and fold up and out of the way when not needed, such as performing wheelchair transfers. They fold down and into place when needed.

7 Grab Bar Installation Tips

4. Vertical Grab Bars provide support directly outside the shower. In the second photo the threshold has a collapsible shower water dam to keep water in the shower. A wheelchair user rolling over this could use the vertical grab bar to pull into the shower and over the shower dam. It also gives walking users something to hold onto while getting in and out of the shower. Wet surfaces are slippery so the safe transition from dry to wet floors is important.

5. Almost all grab bars meet ADA grab Bar specifications, meaning they are already the correct diameter and provide the proper distance from the wall when installed. But it’s important to ensure the wall they are attached to is strong enough to hold the user. The grab bar is strong enough but the installation of it into the wall might not be. Often, the wall needs to be reinforced before installation. Don’t just attach a grab bar and expect it to hold. Rely on experienced installers to do the job right.

6. Mixing horizontal, diagonal, and vertical grab bars provides the best safety measure and the most surface area for grabbing onto something sturdy.

7. A Portable Grab Bar, like a travel or suction cup grab bar, is a great way to test out the best position for your requirements. They attach temporarily with a suction cup and can be used to try out different heights and positions. This can save the time and expense of reinstalling grab bars that were positioned incorrectly.

Grab bars can be a great safety feature for the bathroom but a little pre-planning before the grab bar installation will ensure that they work as well as they should.

Aug 25

Recently we discussed creative accessible home modifications and the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for wheelchair ramp designs that should be followed for installing ramps. We found a wheelchair installation that illustrates how a Modular Switchback Ramp Configuration can work within a limited space and still provide safety and ease of use for the wheelchair user.

Switchback Ramp - Modular Wheelchair Ramp

The client for this project lives in a mobile home in the desert, and while there was plenty of space in front of the home, there wasn’t enough space directly in front to install a ramp that ran straight up to the entrance door. Remember, for every 1-foot in height, the ramp needs to be a minimum of 12-feet in length. The solution was a modular ramp that took advantage of the full length of the home.

As you can see in the photos, the ramp runs back and forth in front of the home in a switchback configuration. The options were to build a concrete or wooden ramp, or a modular aluminum ramp. We chose a modular ramp because they are quick to build and easy to assemble, saving time and money.

Modular Access Ramp Designs

The bottom entrance to the modular ramp was positioned directly in front of the doorway. With a gentle upward slope, it runs the full length of the house where it attaches to a level platform landing at the top. From there, the ramp turns and connects with a level landing that runs the full length back to the entrance door.

The ramp comes with raised edges running the entire length, but for added safety we decided to install the optional handrails. These eliminate the possibility of rolling or falling off the edge at every stage of the ramp. Handrails are also easier and safer for caregivers.

Aluminum Ramp for Wheelchairs

Modular ramps of all-aluminum construction work great for home and commercial use. While they can be setup as a permanent ramp system, they are not as permanent as concrete or wooden ramps. If needed, they can be disassembled and moved if the homeowner or business ever needs to relocate. They are weather-resistant and sturdy, providing a load capacity of 100 lbs per square foot.

Modular ramps can be used with wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters making them a favorite solution for businesses that need to be ADA compliant. They are also a great option for people who live in rental units or mobile homes and RVs. They offer an endless range of configurations for companies and individual homeowners. We frequently use a switchback configuration when space is too tight for the recommended slope angle.

For more information about installing a modular ramp in southern California, call us at (310) 215-3332.

Aug 22

Building or buying a wheelchair ramp isn’t difficult but working within the required Accessibility Guidelines developed by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) can make it challenging.

The Accessibility Guidelines should always be followed, which is why it’s so important to only use contractors that know and abide by the ADA guidelines. The guidelines are in place for the safety of the wheelchair user. Many people try to get around the ADA specifications to save costs, while others simply don’t know about them or understand why they are so important.

Safety is the number one consideration for wheelchair ramps, followed by ease of use. A ramp that is too steep is probably too difficult to use by most people, or will be as the user ages and declines in strength. Steep ramps can also cause the user to tip over backwards when going up or gain too much speed when going down.

The ADA Accessibility Guidelines state that for every 1 foot (12 inches) in height, the ramp must be at least 12 feet long. This gives an incline ratio of 1:12. While this is the maximum incline allowed, many times it is better to double that number to 1 foot of height for 24 feet of length. This number works better for elderly or weaker users.

Wheelchair Ramp accessibility guidelines

This sounds fairly simple to follow until you see just how fast the ramp length can add up. If you need to clear an outside set of stairs that are only two feet high, you need at least 24 feet of ramp length. What if you don’t have 24 feet of space directly in front of the stairs? In many cases you won’t have that much room so it’s time to get creative. Modular ramps are one solution where the ramp travels back and forth from side to side. Another option is to use a Vertical Platform Lift or Incline Lift.

Another consideration often overlooked for wheelchair ramps is the weight capacity. Will the user need a caregiver to push up and down the ramp? If so, it’s important to assess the weight of the chair with the user in it as well as the weight of the caregiver. The same goes for motorized scooters.

Don’t ignore the landings at the top and bottom of the ramp when thinking about building or buying a wheelchair ramp. Landings should be flat and level and provide a rail or wall at the top so the user doesn’t go off the side.

Wheelchair ramp landings at the bottom should be free from anything that could injure the user if they lose control on the way down or build up too much speed. Again the ramp incline is important to prevent accidents and injuries. If it is too steep at the bottom where it meets the landing, the front wheels could get caught and tipping over would cause serious injury.

Raised edges are always necessary for whelchair ramps, and handrails along the entire length of the wheelchair ramp provide the most safety for the user and caregiver.

When installing permanent or semi-permanent ramps, note the conditions where the ramp will be used. Outside ramps in areas that get a lot of rain or snow should provide good traction and be weather resistant which is why so many are made of aluminum. It is lightweight, durable, and holds up well in inclement weather. Make sure it provides good traction though, and if it doesn’t already have it, ask about applying a traction material.

wooden wheelchair ramps

Wooden wheelchair ramps can be custom installed to match the home or area where they will be installed. These are very attractive but the same considerations apply for weight, traction and durability.

While it can be challenging to meet the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, it is imperative for the safety and ease of use for the user to be ADA compliant. There’s always a solution to be found even in a limited space. An experienced wheelchair ramp company or builder will help you find a way to make it work safely. Always ask for examples of previous work just to be sure you’ll get exactly what you need and want.

Aug 15

The Challenge for this project was a 90-foot long driveway that was narrow and steep with no way to turn the car around. The Solution was to install a 76-foot Bruno Outdoor Stair Lift.

Bruno Outdoor Stair Lift for 90-foot driveway

90-foot driveway leading up to the home

Our client was an 80-year old couple with a private summer home. As the picture shows, the driveway leading up to the house was very long and narrow making it difficult to back all the way out of the driveway, so they rarely used it to drive the full distance to the house.

With the mailbox at the entrance to the driveway 90 feet away from the house, it made it difficult to walk the length of the driveway to get the mail. It was also difficult to walk all the way to the home from the curb where the car was parked.

We contacted Bruno Independent Living Aids with the dimensions and they custom fabricated the 76-foot track for us. A Bruno Outdoor Stair Lift 2010E was attached to the track. It was the longest outdoor stair lift for them and for us. The track begins at the front of the driveway and travels all the way down the driveway to within fifteen feet of the house.

Bruno Outdoor Stair Lift

Stairway and landing pad during construction

Near the house, there was a dramatic change of slope where the stair lift track ended. A custom stairway, landing, and cement pad was fabricated so the landing was level with the sidewalk leading from the stair lift to the front door of the house.

Bruno 2010E Outdoor Stair Lift

View of the landing pad and sidewalk leading to the house during construction

The stair lift can now be used for getting mail and traveling back and forth to the car. Not only does this make it safer than walking the long driveway but it’s easier and safer to use the car because it doesn’t need to be backed up the 90-foot length of the driveway.

Many Thanks to Bruno for providing us with the custom track for another big stair lift installation. We recently worked with them on a curved stair lift in Los Angeles with 9-custom turns.

Aug 9

While there are many possible configurations and components that make up a Wheelchair Shower, here is an illustration of one way that shows a Shower Dam with other important products.

It’s also important to note that other people not in a wheelchair will probably use the shower but they may have some sort of handicap that can take advantage of many of the same products.

Shower Dam for a Wheelchair Shower

Beginning near the top of the photo is a Hand-Held Shower, which is easier to use from a seated position in a chair than a static showerhead that doesn’t move.

A Horizontal Grab Bar inside the shower provides support for pulling the wheelchair in and out of the shower and for turning around. It also provides support for a caregiver that may be helping.

Another Vertical Grab Bar is positioned outside the shower for the same reasons. Using both horizontal and vertical grab bars together is always a good idea whenever possible.

While the floor slopes inward to the drain from all sides, there is a chance that some of the water will spill out of the shower onto the bathroom floor. Water outside the shower can make tile floors slippery or carpeted floors wet and soggy.

To keep water inside the shower, a Collapsible Water Retainer Shower Dam at the shower threshold keeps water inside the shower. It collapses down when rolled over by a wheelchair then pops back up into place. This is an important component of a wheelchair shower. A Shower Dam can also used for walk-in showers to keep water in the shower, but some of them have a raised threshold that needs to be stepped over and is difficult to roll over in a wheelchair.

While the Shower Dam works great for keeping floor water in the shower, Weighted Shower Curtains make them complete by keeping water spray in the shower. These curtains have heavy weights in the bottom and they form a better seal against the Shower Dam. They are easier to use than a shower door for entering and exiting the shower in a wheelchair and better accommodate a caregiver.

A lot of wheelchair showers have a shower pan that is flush with the bathroom floor. In this case, the shower floor is an inch or two higher than the bathroom floor making it difficult to roll in. Lego Ramps were used to make the roll into the shower much easier. Lego Ramps are very lightweight and come in small sections that can be cut to fit or stacked on top of each other. They are very durable and have holes to help with water drainage.

Shower Dam

A close-up shot from the front better shows how the Shower Dam, Weighted Shower Curtains, and Lego Ramps work together.

As we stated, there are many products and combinations that can be used for making a shower wheelchair accessible. It’s important to assess the bathroom layout and the needs of the user(s). Knowing that so many products are available has made it easier and safer than it once was merely a decade ago.

Powered By Wordpress - Theme Provided By Wordpress Themes