Grabrails: A Support Tool for Independent Living
For individuals with limited mobility, installing reliable grab rails at home can allow for more independent living and can help improve self-confidence and well-being.
Grab Rails are designed to provide balance and support for elderly persons and people with disabilities when moving around in areas where falls are at a higher risk. These areas commonly include the bathroom where floors and surface areas can be slippery when wet.
In this article we explore the different features of grab rails to consider before installation, based on your personal needs and the area in which you intend to install them.
The construction of the grabrail
Grab Rails are used differently to handrails, which are more commonly used for guidance and stability in staircases to negotiate large changes in levels.
A key consideration when choosing grabrail is its strength - it’s vital that the grabrail is able to withstand the weight of the individual who intends to use it.To help establish the strength of the rail and how much force can be applied, you should study how it is joined together as well as the thickness of the rail tubing.
The materials of the grab rail
Grab Rails come in a variety of materials including stainless steel, aluminium, brass, plastic and galvanised tubing. If the intended use is primarily in wet areas such as the bathroom, it’s important to select grab rails made of no-rust materials such as stainless steel or aluminium. Another consideration in wet areas is the material's' ability to conduct electricity. To avoid safety hazards the grab rail should be installed by a professional tradesperson.
The finish of the grabrail
The finish of the grabrail will determine its area of use. Common finishes available include slip-resistant, satin, powder-coated, epoxy-coated, enamel-coated, polished and skin touch finish.
For example, if the rail is being installed in a wet area, a slip-resistant finish will be the appropriate and safest choice of finish as the individual requires less strength to maintain a firm grip on the rail, even when wet.
For people with a visual impairment, you might want to consider a rail that contrasts against the colour of the wall surface.
The size of the grab rail
Finding the perfect size is everything when it comes to grab rails and safety precautions. If the diameter of the grab rail is too big, the individual will struggle to get a good grip. On the other hand, if the diameter is too narrow it will put strain on the user’s hand to maintain its hold. Ideal rail diameter will allow the user’s hand to encircle and be in complete contact with the rail when gripping.
For reference, although not suitable to everyone’s individual needs, the Australian Standards recommends the outside diameter of a grab rail to be between 30 and 40 millimetres. The most common lengths of a rail are 300 millimetres, 450 millimetres, 600 millimetres and 900 millimetres.
The positioning, proper installation & mount of the grabrail
The mount: There are generally two options when it comes to installing grab rails, screw-fix, and suction cups. Screw-fix grab rails are more durable because they are installed in the wall using screws at both ends while suction cups are used as a portable option for the elderly to carry around. It is not a long-term option as they cannot take the full bodyweight of the user.
To be able to hold an individual’s full body weight, permanent grab rails are usually designed to be permanently fixed at both ends to the structures of the wall. This is unless used in positions where the rail needs to fold or swing up (when moving off or onto the toilet for example). Some grab rails can be mounted to the floor or ceiling as an alternative where there is no practical wall nearby.
The position: It’s important to tailor the position of the rail to the individual’s specific needs. The location and direction should cater to the user’s functional capacity and body mechanics (hand strength, size, arm reach etc.). They should be positioned close enough to reach, and high enough to provide support to gain the required momentum and stability.
For more information on how to best mount and position your grabrail, speak to a professional trades person or installation expert who follow Australian standards for safety and longevity of the product.
Quality grab rails at Bendtech™
Now that you understand all the things that you need to consider when choosing grab rails, it's time to buy the right grabrail for you!. Bendtech™ has wide product range of accessible grab rails you can choose from and is available for delivery wherever you are in Australia. Our range of quality products covers modular grab, custom grab rails and accessibility grab rails suitable for residential projects.
Bendtech™ has been manufacturing modular grabrails, and other disability products designed for the disabled and the elderly user for decades. They are known for providing high quality healthcare products at competitive prices throughout Australia since 1992.