AVOIDING SLIPS AND FALLS IN THE BATHROOM
There is a reason why bathrooms are often called ‘the most dangerous room in the home’. Floors may be slippery, and falls are always a danger, especially with hard tiled surfaces, mirrors and glass present.
Here are some tips for reducing fall risk and improving safety in the bathroom:
- Bath mats and other floor coverings: Remove any unsecured mats as they can ‘bunch up’ and increase the risk of trips and falls for those who shuffle their feet. If mats are present, secure with double-sided tape and test to make sure they stay put. Grip or non-skid tape is useful when placed around toilets and in front of sinks, tubs and showers.
- Transfers: For transfers in and out of the bath, use a tub bench. Tension handles installed on a tub are not recommended as people tend to over-rely on them for weight support which can lead to breaks and failures. Tub benches offer a space on one side of the tub to sit down and support to swing legs and shuffle into the tub.
- Shower heads and controls: Ensure shower and tub benches are placed near to showerheads and controls. A hand-held shower is strongly recommended to prevent reaching. This should be mounted on an adjustable grab bar, not mounted on a slide bar which will not support you.
- Grab Bars: Grab bars should be placed in areas which are easily reached for support outside showers and tubs to aid transfer. A second bar placed under a showerhead, recognizes common habits in where people stand as they shower.
Grab bars should always be placed where reinforced blocking has been installed to accommodate. Even if you do not anticipate using grab bars for many years, it is best practice to have this blocking installed when bathrooms are renovated.
- Glass Doors: Glass shower doors and/or sliding glass tub doors make entries and exits more challenging. It also makes helping a seated bather more challenging. Plus, the risk of cuts and injury increase substantially, if there is a fall. Glass doors should be removed and replaced with a shower curtain. Slits down the shower curtain are useful to avoid bunching if a fall does occur.
- Dementia: Dementia can significantly increase the risk of falls and injury in the bathroom, making taking the above steps even more necessary. Depending on the progression of the condition, razor blades, scissors and trim tools should be kept secure and introduced when requested or scheduled.
Faucet taps should clearly be marked “HOT” and “COLD” and medications should be kept in a secure dedicated location where they can be found by caregivers but not mistakenly consumed by those with dementia. This also includes soaps and cleaners that may be accidentally drunk or eaten.