Lighting Guide for Accessible Bathrooms

Poor lighting increases the likelihood of falls

The importance of good lighting cannot be underestimated and bathrooms in particular are prone to shadows due to many using only one main ceiling light source. Being able to see a space clearly benefits movement, balance, gait and stability and ultimately improves a person’s overall safety. Although anyone can experience a fall, certain people are more at risk, including those over the age of 75, people with balance problems and muscle weakness, poor vision, or a long-term health condition such as heart disease, dementia or low blood pressure (hypotension) (NHS, 2018).

Thirty percent of people aged 65+ will fall at least once a year and for those aged 80+ this rises to fifty percent (NICE, 2013). With the number of people aged 65+ projected to rise by over 40 per cent in the next 17 years to more than 16 million (Office for National Statistics,) the number of older people needing emergency care due to falls is set to rise significantly if preventative measures are not increased.

The 7 characteristics of good lighting

  1. Tailoring the lighting to specific needs – creating a visual environment that supports a person’s chosen ambience and activities.
  2. Ensuring the lighting is for specific tasks, orientation and movement – create a safe minimum level of ambient light and task focused lighting to illuminate specific areas of importance.
  3. Maintaining even light levels, with minimum glare – deep shadows or sharp changes in light levels should be avoided. To minimise glare, the bright areas of light sources should not be directly visible from normal directions of view.
  4. Incorporating adjustment for flexibility – incorporating switching, dimming or different lighting elements for specific needs.
  5. Making sure the lighting is energy efficient – appropriate lighting should be selected to meet user needs without wasting energy. This can be achieved using LED lighting
  6. Prioritising ease of installation where possible to minimise disruption use existing wiring and fittings, or alter switches to more user friendly versions before implementing any major changes.
  7. Planning the adaptation to suit the future – choose adaptations that respond to changing needs, new occupants and lighting innovations.

Quality Bathroom Lighting Factors Include:

  • LED lighting – LED lights are highly energy efficient and provide shadow free illumination. Ideal for those with visual impairment issues or those with dementia, for whom shadows can cause confusion and the potential for falls
  • Well targeted LED downlights – these are lights that are recessed into the ceiling, so that a narrow beam of light is directed downward onto a specific area, in order for the user to carry out activities more effectively
  • Sufficient general LED ceiling lights – to deliver a good level of ambient lighting to the whole space
  • Easy to use light switch or pull cord – either a rocker switch or easy to hold pull cord. For those with visual impairment issues, a cord in a high-contrast colour is ideal
  • Higher lux light levels – lux is the unit of illuminance and for people with sight loss or dementia, higher lux levels will be needed within the space (see ‘Bathroom lighting for maximum benefit’ for more details on this)
  • Mirror lighting – lights over mirrors, or embedded within the frame as a decorative feature, are ideal for those looking for task-specific lighting for shaving or make-up application.

AKW’s Task Focused Lighting Kit

5 x Task Focused 8W LED Lights

1 x Pull Cord Switch

2 x Standard 18W LED Lights

A Well lit Bathroom

To help care home managers, social and private housing providers and installers, AKW has created a bathroom lighting pack. It contains
everything needed to light a standard UK bathroom (standard size 8ft by 6ft or 2,438mm x 1,829mm) and the products conform to all
relevant industry standards for a bathroom installation.

The pack contains five narrow beam (30°) ceiling LED task lights: three for the bath/shower zone and two for the toilet and sink areas.
There are also two long lasting, bright (1764lm) LED ceiling lights for the ambient lighting of the space and a blue pull-cord switch.

Task Focused Lighting

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The true benefit of a well-lit bathroom

Bathroom lighting modification is not just about highlighting risk areas and resolving issues, but it is about promoting independence.
With a well-lit bathroom space, a person’s wellbeing and confidence are boosted, enabling them to engage more readily in day-to-day
activities in a high-risk space. With a little time and investment good bathroom lighting has the potential to promote independence and
help reduce accidents, now that’s good news whether the bathroom is in a social housing, private or care home environment.