Making a Splash

Bath Safety Merges into the Mainstream

Among mobility products, bath safety equipment — including grab bars, transfer chairs/benches/boards, bath/shower chairs, raised toilets/commodes and bathtub grip bars — seldom gets the respect it deserves. For ages it's been thought of as a low-tech product category, with utilitarian looks that only a visiting nurse could love.

But before you think you've seen and heard everything there is to know about bath safety, consider these points… and take a look at some bath safety products that answer your customers' calls for accessibility while possibly helping your bottom line.

  • The price of an unsafe bathroom is too high. The National Safety Council reports that injuries from falls were the third leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States in 2002. A March 2002 Harvard Women's Health Watch article stated that 50 percent of women aged 65 and older who sustain hip fractures are never able to live independently again after their injuries, and 20 percent die within a year after injury.
  • Accessibility is cool! Universal design was number two on the "hot ideas for bathrooms" list in a 2002 Design Trends Survey Update commissioned by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). NKBA members — including equipment manufacturers and distributors, dealers and certified bathroom/kitchen designers — asked for popular bathroom themes or designs in demand by their clients, listed universal design (40 percent) ahead of environmentally friendly products/designs (32 percent), laundry areas (27 percent) and kid-friendliness (26 percent).
  • Your customers need it. Are you a DME dealer? There's a high probability that customers who are buying lift chairs, scooters, walkers, rollators or canes from you have standing, balance or mobility difficulties and could benefit from grab bars, raised toilets/commodes or bath/shower chairs. Are you a rehab technology supplier? Transfer benches or chairs, patient lifts or bath chairs could make the bathroom safer for your clients and their caregivers. Bonus: Bath safety products can add retail sales without the funding paperwork. (See Medtrade education sidebar.)
  • The boomers are coming, the boomers are coming! Need something more concrete than the oft-quoted statistic that the first baby boomers turn 60 this year? Try this: The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) has 35 million members age 50 or older — and an entire Web site section devoted to bath safety and accessible bathrooms ( — search words "bath safety"). Bathroom safety is in such demand that last September, Home Depot debuted a series of clinics for do-it-yourselfers who wanted to learn how to upgrade their own bathrooms (
  • Accessible bathroom elements are merging with mainstream design. The call for more accessible or universally designed bathrooms — even from people without disabilities or current mobility issues — could make the idea of bath safety more palatable to the American public as a whole. This award-winning bathroom, for instance, seems to incorporate such universal design elements as a low- or no-threshold shower and a sink that provides room for a wheelchair user's legs.

Click here to check out bath safety products.

At Medtrade

Tuesday, Sept. 19
8:30-9:30 a.m.
Medicare Coverage Criteria: Safety First!
Elizabeth Stevens, Invacare Corp.

The OT, PT, DME providers, caregivers, nurses and clinicians will identify one clinical indicator for use of canes, walkers and wheeled mobility and at least two strategies for appropriate selection of assistive bath/shower equipment. Mobility aid and home equipment for safe completion of mobility-related activities of daily living will include clinical indications for mobility aids such as canes, walkers, manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs and POVs/scooters.

Wednesday, Sept. 20
9:45-10:45 a.m.
Cash Is Good!
Velma Goertzen, A Step Ahead Consulting
Sales & Marketing

What can you do to proactively deal with the climate of reimbursement cuts that are affecting us today? Discuss techniques to help you increase your revenue by focusing a portion of your showroom and resources on cash sales. Merchandising a retail showroom is different than setting up an HME store front. Learn how to set up a showroom to turn cash dollars. Develop strategies to turn cash sales into a profitable source of revenue.

This article originally appeared in the August 2006 issue of Mobility Management.

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