Accessible wet room with grab rails in ht shower and next to the basin

How grab rails can assist you

If you have mobility issues and need added stability, a good way to future-proof your bathroom is by making it more accessible. In addition, grab rails can provide you with added stability and reassurance when moving around, allowing you the freedom to use your bathroom without external assistance.

What are grab rails?

Grab rails are also known as support rails, grab bars or safety bars and come in various designs and sizes.

Correctly placed grab rails will provide assistance as follows:

  • For balance when standing and carrying out an activity.
  • Providing you with something to grip whilst transferring from one position to another.
  • Giving a steadying support whilst sitting down.
  • Providing you with something to push or pull against when standing up.

In terms of your bathroom, this translates to:

  • Providing general stability when moving around the bathroom.
  • Making it easier stepping in and out of a bath.
  • Helping with getting in and out of the shower.
  • Helping with moving on and off the toilet.

What are the most common types of grab rails are available?

Straight grab rails

These wall-fixed rails run in one direction only and are the most common type of grab rail used. They can be installed vertically, horizontally, or at an incline angle, depending on the type of grip that is required.

Horizontal rails can provide support when lowering or pushing up from a seated position, e.g. from the toilet.

Vertical rails may assist by helping to maintain balance or when pulling up to a standing position.

A straight rail placed at a 45 degree angle up and away can help with steadying support when moving from a sitting to standing position.

Angled grab rails

These rails provide a couple of different grip options and are mostly used as bath grab rails. They are ideal when moving from a standing to a sitting position.

Drop down rails

These type of rails provide flexibility for wheelchair users and those who share a bathroom with family members. They are most commonly fixed to the wall or to the floor behind the toilet and can fold down to a horizontal position alongside the toilet.
Some have a support leg which rests down on the floor when the rail is horizontal. Some models provide a single horizontal rail, which provides support at one height. Others consist of a looped rail, which provides two alternative gripping positions. Rails that can be lifted up and out of the way can be useful for wheelchair users, who can move from the seat to the toilet, before putting the bar in place for added stability and help with movement.

Positioning of grab rails

Correct positioning of grab rails is important to ensure that they provide the support to perform specific tasks.

The following factors also need to be taken into consideration:

  • The particular requirements of the user
  • The support required
  • The height and weight of the user
  • The mobility of the user
  • The strength a user has in their hands, arms and shoulders.

In line with the above, consideration needs to be given to how much weight the grab rail can withstand, whether it will offer the right amount of grip and where the best placement is for a comfortable, effective grip.

It is best to be advised by a professional before any grab rails are fitted to ensure that they meet individual needs.

Styles of grab rails

There are many modern styles available, meaning you won’t have to select a style that looks like it is meant to be in a hospital bathroom.

Functional styles, like those made from white-coated PVC are available, but there are also stylish stainless steel and chrome options available.

When it comes to styles, the grip the material provides also needs to be taken into consideration. While a polished metal finish is both hard-wearing and attractive, it can be quite slippery to hold, especially with wet hands. A moulded, coated or textured surface can make the rail slip resistant and provide extra grip.

Other considerations when fitting a grab rail

Finally, it is important to know whether your wall will support a grab rail. If it is a brick wall, it will support the maximum load that the bar can withstand, while a stud or partition wall generally is not suitable.

If you are interested in making your bathroom more accessible, you can contact us on 01784 440333 or send us an email via our Contact Page.