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Building accessible bathroom flexibility into housing stock

According to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report demand for accessible housing is increasing, with insufficient supply across all tenure types. Here Stuart Reynolds, Head of Product and Marketing at AKW, discusses how accessible bathroom flexibility can be incorporated into housing stock.

AKW Limited

A major piece of research by the Smith Institute forecasts that by 2034 there will be 170,000 more residents with mobility problems living in housing association properties. In addition, almost half (48.5%) of all social rented households have at least one person whose illness or disability limits their activities; a much higher figure than in other tenures.

With this in mind, in the next 10 to 20 years, many more older and disabled people living in private rented properties, or homeowners with insufficient equity, will need to try and find more suitable, adapted accommodation. Inevitably, many of these will apply for social housing, putting further significant pressure on
housing managers.

A different approach

For many, the area that presents the most problems for accessibility is the bathroom. Although a level access showering room promotes long-term safety and independence for those with mobility issues, this type of bathroom can cause difficulties when general-needs accommodation is re-let and the next occupants require a more traditional bathroom layout.

Even in sheltered housing, standard wet room solutions do not always work. ‘Personalisation’ is a common buzz-word but it is expensive to deliver in practice. So, what can housing providers do to provide both value for money and flexible solutions to keep all tenants happy? It’s clearly a big challenge that urgently needs to be addressed.

The Bathroom for Life solution

To help build greater flexibility into housing stock, AKW has been working with many social housing providers to overcome this issue with their Bathroom for Life solution. It offers a conventional bathroom layout that includes a bath; however the bath can be very quickly and easily adapted to become a level access wet room showering area (and back again if required).

This solution also minimises any adaptation costs by reducing the amount of building work needed, as well as disruption to tenants. Once installed, it takes approximately half a day to either install a bath or take the bath out and return it to a wet room. Typically, the price difference between a Bathroom for Life installation and a traditional bathroom refurbishment or new build is £500.

Although there is increasing pressure on housing stock to become even more accessible, manufacturers are working hard to help social landlords provide ‘real-world’ solutions. Thanks to companies such as AKW, many housing providers are saving time and building long-term flexibility into their housing stock.

Manufacturers are working hard to help social landlords provide ‘real-world’ solutions

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