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Home improvements for the vulnerable

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In November 2022, ODS was commissioned by the Home Improvement Agency to install a level access shower for a first-floor apartment located in central Oxford.

With funding secured from the Disabled Facilities Grant, the work involved replacing a worn-out bathtub, old tiling, and flooring with modern, purpose designed fixtures and fittings.

For the resident, the job had a positive impact on her quality-of-life. With severely impaired eyesight and mobility issues, a level access shower means securing independence and dignity and less reliance on carers. Before the project was completed, she had to step over and into an old bathtub to wash herself - a difficult feat with limited mobility.

When ODS attended the initial site assessment, it quickly became clear that there were a number of challenges to overcome. A solid concrete floor in the bathroom meant that a conventional ‘sunk’ shower tray and drainage system was not going to be suitable. This was a problem. The initial brief was for a walk-in shower that was near flush with the floor. However, to achieve this would require breaking up the entire concrete base – not a viable option for a first floor flat.

The team pivoted quickly to develop a new plan. Working with local suppliers and contractors, ODS sourced a new, ultra-low-profile shower tray that could be surface mounted on the concrete floor and which utilises an electric pump to drain away waste water. This meant that new Zone 0 electrics needed to be installed to feed the pump – extra-low voltage to ensure safe use in a wet environment. The new tray would mean a step-over of around 40mm to access the shower. ODS worked with the client’s occupational therapist to ensure that this would be safe and comfortable for the resident.

“This project was a case of being flexible,” says Bruce Thompson, Commercial Lead for Building Services at ODS. “We faced some technical challenges, but we also had to be mindful of the client’s needs, especially given that this was the only bathroom in the flat. Our team worked with the resident and her carers to ensure she was comfortable at all times and kept informed as to what we were doing.”

Finished off with a new coved floor, the bathroom has been transformed. Now the resident can safely step into her shower unassisted. She was over-the-moon with her new bathroom – calling out ODS for their care and attention throughout the project.