Good lighting in any bathroom is essential for the avoidance of accidents, however in an accessible bathroom, the need for safety increases dramatically. Here Stuart Reynolds from AKW discusses what ‘good lighting in an accessible bathroom’ looks like and how one local care organisation is ensuring that their bathrooms are well lit, to minimise falls and other accidents.
What is good lighting for accessible bathrooms?
For those with low vision or mobility issues, the avoidance of shadows, dark areas and glare is key to safe movement around a bathroom. With this in mind, a mix of ambient and narrow beam lighting is ideal. As to the types of lights and their positioning, AKW has worked with occupational therapists to create a simple to use guide on what to install and where, for maximum user benefit.
In summary, the key points of the guide are:
- Include ambient lighting to maintain general light levels. Use LED ceiling lights as these provide shadow free illumination, ideal for those with visual impairment issues or those with dementia.
- Include narrow beam LED downlights over specific ‘task-based areas’ such as the shower, bath, sink or toilet. Most LED downlights on the market have a beam angle of 60°, however for those with low vision or mobility issues, a specialist task light with a 30° beam angle is best.
- AKW’s Task Focused Lighting Kit has been developed to help anyone looking to install lighting in an accessible bathroom. The kit contains everything needed for a standard sized bathroom, but additional items can be added for larger spaces.
Accessible bathroom lighting in practice in Manchester
The Manchester Local Care Organisation is used to looking at community-based care differently and this approach has led to its Equipment and Adaptations Service taking an innovative approach to lighting two accessible bathroom refurbishments. Working with AKW, the end results are spaces that not only look good and promote safety, but also are lit to maintain independence for many years to come.
Following talks with AKW, where the company’s new Task Focused Lighting Kit and ‘occupational therapist advised lighting guide’ were discussed, the team at the Equipment and Adaptations Service decided to introduce the lighting to two of its up and coming bathroom refurbishments. One was for a person with dementia in an owner-occupied property and the other was for a person living with visual impairment in a shared ownership property. However, the issues in each space were the same: accessibility needed to be drastically improved to ensure independence in the home for longer.
Taking a closer look at lighting
Traditionally lighting is one of the last things thought of when an accessible bathroom installation is undertaken. A standard IP65 LED Bulkhead fitting tends to be specified and this delivers a good level of ambient light throughout the space. Although this is sufficient for many bathroom installations, people with mobility issues, dementia or visual impairments need more tailored lighting to navigate and use the space easily.
With this in mind, the total refurbishment of both bathrooms not only included the replacement of baths with wet rooms, new tiling and flooring and accessibility features such as grab-rails and shower seats, but the lighting was also installed as per AKW’s Task Focused Lighting Guide recommendations. This meant that in each space, the inadequate incandescent light bulbs were replaced with one long lasting, bright (1764lm) ambient LED ceiling lights for general illumination. In addition five narrow beam (30°) ceiling LED task lights were installed: three over the shower area and one over both the basin and toilet.
Andrew Wilmot, Regional Sales Manager at AKW explains further: “Good bathroom lighting needs to deliver adequate light levels for the user to perform a variety of tasks around the space. For those with low vision or mobility issues, the avoidance of shadows, dark areas and glare is key to safe movement. A mix of ambient and task-focused LED lighting delivers highly energy efficient, shadow free illumination, making it ideal for those with visual impairment issues or those with dementia.”
John Roberts, Senior Technical Officer at Manchester’s Services for Independent Living, comments: “The overarching mission of The Manchester Local Care Organisation is to make a positive contribution to help people in Manchester live longer and enjoy better health than many do now. These two recent accessible bathroom installations are a great example of the work we do, as they have led to a dramatic improvement in bathroom accessibility for both occupants.
“As well as specifying high contrast tiles for both installations, to minimise any confusion when navigating around the space, we specified AKW’s lighting kit. The feedback from both properties relating to the lighting and contrasting tiles and floor covering has been overwhelmingly positive and we are looking to roll out the use of this lighting in further refurbishments.”
Stuart Reynolds is Head of Product and Marketing at AKW