In the coming decade, every second person will be more than 50 years old and, by 2050, 10% of the population will be over 80 years, as average life expectancy increases. This ageing population will create a need for housing interiors that are comfortable, convenient and accessible to those with mobility issues, who are keen to live as long as possible in their own homes.
Foreshadowing this demographic trend and representative of today’s retirement hot spots, Ray and Joan Dabnor are both in their eighties and live in their own three-bedroom house in Whitstable, Kent. Joan has severe mobility problems, following an earlier heart operation and a subsequent trip and fall, so the couple recently decided to upgrade their main bathroom for enhanced accessibility, on the advice of the hospital. The work was carried out by kitchen and bathroom makeover specialists, Granite Transformations, and features stylish accessibility products from innovative system provider HEWI.
The bathroom upgrade entailed ripping out the existing bath, wc, basin and interior divides and creating a virtual wetroom with walk-in shower, lined throughout with elegant, water-resistant Granite Transformations agglomerate and Trend glass floor mosaic. HEWI supplied its convenient hinged shower seat, foldable support rails, chrome shower shelf and a complete selection of matched accessories. The result is a magical transformation that has left the Dabnors delighted and means they will not need to relocate to purpose-equipped premises, maintaining their independence.
Joan Dabnor’s mobility issues arose several years ago, after open heart surgery, although she refused to succumb to her condition and got about with a tripod walking aid. Then, when bringing her husband Ray a cup of tea in the garden, she tripped and fell, fracturing her hip and elbow. Although their home has a downstairs cloakroom, the main bathroom was upstairs and the hospital was reluctant to release Joan from their care until a stairlift had been installed and the bathroom converted for disabled access.
Joan and Ray were averse to an ‘institutionalised’ design with walk-in bath and robust grab rails, opting instead for a sleek wetroom look with stylish accessibility products that could be folded away after use or even seamlessly removed.
The relatively compact 1850mm x 1670mm bathroom is lined throughout with Granite Transformations’ scratch, heat, impact, chemical and water resistant quartz wall coverings and floor tiles, for an elegant off-white, wipe clean finish. Trend Italian heritage 2cm square glass mosaic tiles are laid in the shower area, bordered by clear glass panels, with no protruding lip to provoke tripping.
In the shower, there is a pair of HEWI hinged chrome support rails, 600mm in length and profiled for optimum grip. Latched into a permanently installed wall plate, these can be folded aside or if necessary removed completely, with a matching cover concealing the plate. There is also a hinged shower seat made from glass-fibre reinforced white polyamide, which can carry a load of up to 150kg, then be folded up to save space or again removed entirely; an innovative fastening system fixes the seat safely in position, whilst in use. Completing the shower fittings is a neat chrome and white shower shelf.
HEWI also supplied a series of matched accessories including a toiletries shelf, toothbrush tumbler and holder, toilet brush set and paper holder, all featuring the same award-winning minimalist design.
Ray and Joan are most happy with their new bathroom, although they say wryly ‘it puts the rest of the house to shame’. The modern design helps remove the slight stigma of accessibility aids and its overall functionality rules out any need for the Dabnors to move house.
This successful collaboration between suppliers, the compatibility of designs and materials and the ease of installation of HEWI mobility solutions, also presages Granite Transformations’ upcoming ‘Bathroom Studio’ initiative, whereby selected showrooms will take on complete bathroom fit-outs, using GT, Trend and HEWI products and branded sanitary ware.