Mobility focus: advice on level-access showers
The term ‘level-access shower’ is often used in the context of adaptive bathing, but in our opinion it’s often misused too. Its rather elastic definition is open to interpretation. These interpretations are often misleading and, as a result, many people end up with a shower facility which is unsuitable for their mobility needs. At Neaco, we have a clear, two-part definition for what we would describe as true level-access:
1) completely unobstructed level-access
2) a gradient-free showering area
The first half of that definition seems obvious, but it’s important to point out that many so-called level-access showers don’t provide completely level-access. In other words, the bottom surface of the tray may be flush to the floor level, but it’s partitioned from the rest of the bathroom by a small outer ridge or lip which prevents the spread of water. It’s also frequently claimed that a small ramped surround provides level-access, but this requires a sloped surface which contradicts the second half of our definition about a gradient-free area. The same rule applies to wet-room showers – whilst no slopes are required to provide access, the showering area itself requires a slope to drain the water and prevent pooling.
So why do these distinctions matter? They’re especially important for wheelchair users – having to ascend a cumbersome ramp, overcome a ridge or mind a slope are three extra tasks which bring unnecessary complications to a bathing routine. With true level-access facilities, they’re taken out of the equation.
Neaco have been pioneers and advocates of true level-access for decades. Our Neatdek 3 shower grille system is the only product on the market that meets the two key criteria for true level-access: the grille is laid completely gradient-free and a drainage catchment tray is installed below the floor to allow the grille to sit completely flush to the floor level. The grille’s T-bar profile has a 74% foot contact area but its excellent drainage capability can accommodate high-output power showers, which negates the need for a surrounding lip to prevent the spread of water. This creates a completely smooth and even transition between the showering area and the rest of the bathroom floor.
Neatdek 3’s gradient-free quality can also be a significant advantage in terms of safety and hygiene. In wet-floor showers the water can spread across the whole of the bathroom, creating increased risk of slipping and an unclean floor. In contrast, Neatdek 3 keeps the water within the designated showering area, often with assistance from our Aluseal half-height shower doors. The normal sources of blockages (such as flannels) are safely prevented from obstructing the waste outlet by the grille structure. Manufactured from lightweight aluminium and divided into half sections with a T-bar depth reduced to 19mm, the grilles are light and easy to lift, remove and replace for cleaning. We can offer a textured coating option to increase grip.
Neatdek 3 also offers these superb features and benefits:
- Available in a wide range of standard and bespoke sizes, including bath replacement.
- Suitable for fitting in left or right hand corners, adjoining one wall, within a three-wall enclosure or an oasis installation.
- Suitable for fast installation in solid floors (with grille and tray or grille only) and timber floors.
- Swaged-locked construction, tested to BS4592 part 1: 1995, gives a loadbearing capacity of up to 250kg (40 stone).
- The grilles are non-toxic and stain-resistant.
As an integral part of the bathroom floor and a smooth continuation of its surface area, Neatdek 3 is physically and visually unobtrusive, so the system brings subtle aesthetic virtues to add to its many practical qualities. If you’re looking for a facility to be enjoyed and admired by bathroom users of all ages and mobility levels, we believe that Neatdek 3 will offer you a unique combination of attributes. We would certainly advise that, if you’re in the process of researching “level-access” showers, it would be instructive to assess them in the context of the true level-access yardstick which Neatdek 3 represents. If you’d like to discuss your bathroom deisgn needs in more detail, please contact our friendly team of advisors.