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20 Dec 2019

Accessible lighting changes lives in St Helens, Merseyside

- Written by AKW Ltd

The St Helens Council’s Private Sector Housing department works hard with tenants and landlords to improve housing conditions in homes across the borough of St Helens, Merseyside.

On hearing of the challenges faced by a disabled resident with additional visual impairment challenges, the department worked with AKW, one of the UK’s leading providers of accessibility solutions, to include a new lighting scheme in the accessible bathroom refurbishment, promoting the resident’s safety and independence.

As well as ensuring housing standards are upheld, the Private Sector Housing Department also advises landlords on best practice to help accommodate those with specific accessibility requirements. As part of this remit Technical Officer, Ioannis Leontaris was tasked with specifying an accessible bathroom for a private residence, that not only accommodated the resident’s mobility challenges but addressed their visual impairment limitations as well.

Following talks with AKW, where the company’s new Task Focused Lighting Kit and ‘occupational therapist advised lighting guide’ were discussed, Ioannis decided to recommend the lighting be used on this particular wet room bathroom refurbishment.

“ By combining very narrow beam, highly-focused task lighting and high light level ambient lighting in the same kit, shadows, dark areas and glare inaccessible bathrooms can be eradicated, ensuring safe movement around the space.”

Spotlight on lighting
Traditionally inaccessible bathroom refurbishment, a standard IP65 LED circular fluorescent fitting is specified with a light switch. Although this is sufficient for many bathroom installations, people with mobility challenges, dementia or visual impairments need more tailored lighting to navigate and use the space easily. That is why the AKW Task Focused Lighting Kit takes accessible lighting to the next level, as it combines both ambient and task-focused lighting to enable the space to be lit to full efficacy, maximising independence.

Alongside the replacement of the bath with a wet room, new tiling, flooring and a moveable shower seat, the lighting was installed using the occupational therapist advised AKW lighting
guidelines. The inadequate existing lighting was replaced with two long-lasting, bright (1764lm) ambient LED ceiling lights for general illumination. In addition five narrow beam (30°)
ceiling LED task lights were installed: three over the shower area and one over both the basin and toilet. Following a request from Ioannis, the lighting was split into three different zones, with each operated by a separate light switch. The first switch controlled the toilet and basin task lights, the second was for the showering area and the third operated the general illumination LED
ceiling lights. The reason for the lighting zoning was so that the resident could have options regarding brightness, depending on their reason for visiting the bathroom.

Laura Walsh, Sales Business Development Manager at AKW explains further: “Adequate light levels are essential for any bathroom, but even more so when the user has vision and
mobility challenges. By combining very narrow beam, highly-focused task lighting and high light level ambient lighting in the same kit, shadows, dark areas and glare inaccessible bathrooms can be eradicated, ensuring safe movement around the space.”

Ioannis Leontaris, Technical Officer at St Helens Council’s Private Sector Housing Department, comments: “Our overarching mission is to improve the housing conditions in homes
across the borough of St Helens. My work involves advising landlords and offering specific advice in relation to adaptations. I am pleased to say that this recent wet room refurbishment
has led to a dramatic improvement in bathroom accessibility for the resident. She is able to choose what level of brightness she wants in the bathroom, dependent on the task that she
wants to undertake. The mix of ambient fittings, task-focused lighting and zone switches have been a real success.”

For those looking for further guidance on this subject, AKW’s Task Focused Accessible Bathroom Lighting Guide, developed in conjunction with occupational therapists, is available as a free download. To find out more visit: www.akw-ltd.co.uk/lighting

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