Memories of home: Bathroom

Night light

An amber night light is embedded in the chair rail element. The light gives residents enough light to be able to see and navigate to the toilet upon waking in the night but its amber color won’t disrupt those circadian melatonin receptors that could create or exacerbate any sleeping issues.

Extra storage

This storage area (upper photo, opposite) is in addition to the resident’s full closet that can be used by the resident and family. Functional and aesthetically pleasing, the countertop can be furnished with meaningful belongings such as pictures, artwork, statues or flowers. Staff can use the locked cabinets to house extra supplies, such as linens, or for medication storage. There’s even a refrigerator. “If we need to store some things away where they’re not visually within sight of the resident, you’ve got that option here,” Pritchard says. “We’re trying to create an environment that creates success for the resident.”


This is the view a resident has of a bathroom from the bed. The barn door can be left open to allow for a direct visual connection to the toilet, important for cueing and creates independence upon nighttime waking. The sliding door eliminates the potential for wasted space. The door is easy to close even for people in wheelchairs, which helps create a sense of ability.


Shower stall

This shower stall is an alcove with a completely flush transition. Unlike a European shower, this shower has a drain trench that slopes toward the back wall so water won’t go spill out onto the main floor except what drips off residents upon exiting the shower. There’s a vertical grab bar at the entrance to the right of the controls so as residents are leaning in to turn on the shower, they have something to grab. The shower head is also removable for easier washing. Residential towel hooks and curtain rod give the space a subtle reminder of home.


The sink is designed to look residential but serve institutional purposes. There’s a skirt panel that hides the plumbing but provides knee safety and clearance for residents in wheelchairs. The faucet height and outfall offer space for handwashing because often times the caregiver is holding and washing the residents’ hands. “You need the extra height and you need to make sure that the water flow comes out into center of the bowl so while you’re washing the resident’s hands you’re not touching the sides of the sink and double contaminating the hands again,” Carpenter says.

Read more: Memories of home

Top photo courtesy of GMK Interiors/Thomas Watkins.  All others photos courtesy Alise O’Brien Photography.


Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Articles , Design