Designing Accessible Bathrooms

Waiting for my dad is painful. I’m waiting for him to make decisions about his bathroom renovation and he’s refusing to do so, which is holding up the whole renovation process. See my dad got into an accident a month back and it has left him with no ability to move his legs. Being unable to walk for the rest of his life, he’s now bound to a wheelchair and will require care to be able to live a normal life. 

It’s hard because he’s completely sound of mind, which is why I’m letting him make all the decisions in regards to his bathroom renovation. I don’t want to take away the little freedom that he has, but if he doesn’t choose his preferred wheelchair accessible bathroom design by tomorrow night then I’m going to have to pick it for him. I’ve given him two weeks to make a decision and the best that he could come up with was that he wasn’t particularly fond of getting renovations done to his bathroom at all. Unfortunately, seeing as dad will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, he has no choice but to have these renovations completed. 

Maybe I’ve made it too difficult for him. Not in terms of it being too hard to choose a design because he can’t (because he can), but more in the sense that coming to terms with having to make these changes is too hard to fathom. Maybe instead, I should ask him if he has any bathroom tiles ideas. Melbourne designers have a whole plethora of tile options available, so there should be something that my dad likes. While he’s distracted choosing the new tiles for his bathroom, I can make the hard decisions with the help of the expert designers who know what they’re doing. I feel sad for my dad that this has happened to him, but I’ll be here to support him through it all.


About the Grout

‘I can’t believe this,’ I grumbled as I paced the length of the bathroom, phone pressed firmly to my ear. ‘I can’t believe this is happening again!’

‘Oh, relax,’ my wife rolled her eyes. ‘It’s not The Great War.’

‘It’s my The Great War,’ I scowled at her, hold music incessantly blaring in my ear. ‘They should have fixed this properly, from the start!’

‘It’s just a repair job,’ she sighed, settling into the empty bath like she was going to have a nap. ‘Let me know when they pick up.’

‘I mean, how hard is it?’ I went on, only half-realising I was ignoring her. ‘How hard is it to find someone to repair my shower grout? In the Melbourne area, for a change.’

‘Oh, relax,’ she scoffed. ‘That last guy was only from the outer suburbs.’

‘Well, maybe there shouldn’t have been a last guy,’ I frowned. ‘Maybe just the first guy should have sorted it out!’

‘Maybe,’ she rolled her eyes again. ‘Steve, look – you’ve got to relax.’

‘I am relaxed,’ I fumed.

‘No, I mean actually relax,’ she smiled at me. ‘Look around! This bathroom has been perfect for us.’

I did as she said, taking a deep breath and letting my eyes wander around the room.

‘I guess,’ I muttered.

‘No need to guess! Do you remember how hard it was finding a company that designs bathrooms for disabled people?’

‘All the more reason why it should be fixed.’

‘Oh, one of the tiles fell off,’ she shrugged. ‘That happens to every bathroom.’

‘What if she’d been in the bath?’ I countered. ‘And we didn’t know a tile had fallen on her?’

‘It didn’t fall out over the bath!’

‘But it could—’

‘Well, that’s insane,’ she laughed. ‘You sound insane.’

‘Someone has to care!’

‘Woah, woah, woah,’ she climbed out of the bath, all traces of laughter gone from her eyes. ‘We both care. But you,’ – she stuck a finger in my face –, ‘don’t get to throw a hissy fit and call it caring!’


Dad’s Bathroom Fall

I turned on the tap for the bath, perching myself on the side of the porcelain with a sigh. In some ways, I enjoyed this part of the process more than the bath itself – just sitting there, with the sound of the water, the steam beginning to caress my face. Nothing to do, nothing to take care of while I waited; just sweet, luxurious waiting.

The door burst open and I squealed like a caught mouse, jumping for the towel rack on pure instinct to try and shield my naked body from whoever was barging on my bath time.

My left foot landed on the tiles beautifully, but my right foot – wet from dangling in the water – slid out from underneath me as I slammed it down.

‘Dad, yikes, are you alright?’ my son rushed over to me as I lay on the floor, groaning.

‘Why’d you burst in for?’ I grunted at him, annoyed and in pain.

‘I needed to use the bathroom!’ he defended himself, throwing a towel over my lower half.

‘You didn’t hear the bath?’

‘What’s going on?’ another voice echoed from down the hallway.

‘Nothing!’ I yelled back.

‘Dad’s fallen over!’ my son called out to them. Within seconds, my whole extended family – sons, daughters, spouses and grandchildren – were gathered around me on the tiles.

‘I told you we needed to get him one of those bathtub cut outs for elderly people living in Sydney,’ my oldest daughter insisted.

‘He always said no!’ my youngest defended herself.

‘I’m not dead,’ I growled, unable to get up without help.

‘Brian, just let us do this for you,’ my middle son’s second wife pleaded.

‘Do what?’

‘Let us modify your bathtub for safety, please.’

‘I didn’t slip because I’m senile,’ I huffed. ‘Junior tried to frighten the life out of me!’

‘Did you see Mum?’ my son asked, eyes welling with tears.

‘That’s it!’ I threw my hands in the air and climbed to my feet, discarding the towel.

Everyone left me to my bath pretty quickly after that.