The Silver Lining: Making Bath Time a Spa Experience for Seniors

Today’s seniors crave a lifestyle experience that extends beyond basic necessities. This includes their bathrooms, particularly the bathing space — often an overlooked opportunity to create a spa-like haven. By designing or renovating senior living shower enclosures, you can transform the bathroom into a tranquil escape, rather than a sterile medical facility. Doing so has many benefits for residents and for your senior living community.

The Value of a Spa Experience

Christina Kirby

Christina Kirby, channel marketing manager, commercial division at American Bath Group

In a competitive senior living market, fostering a sense of hospitality and luxury in the bathing area can be a major differentiator, explains Christina Kirby, channel marketing manager, commercial division at American Bath Group. “Senior living residents and their families are more focused on overall quality of life than ever before, and that includes not only their physical but their mental well-being,” she says. “Spa-like bathing experiences, such as steam showers for example, provide benefits like relaxation but can also enhance circulation, help with pain relief, and improve respiratory and skin health.”

Kirby notes that while implementing a spa-like bath experience may require an initial investment, the long-term benefits can outweigh the costs. “By promoting resident health and well-being, the community may see reduced healthcare expenses associated with managing chronic conditions and improved resident satisfaction, potentially leading to higher occupancy rates and revenue,” she explains.

Such bathroom enhancements can also benefit senior care maintenance and cleaning staff. “Elevated appeal does not have to equal more work for maintenance and cleaning staff,” Kirby says. “Owners can choose elements like cast marble showers that offer a high-end aesthetic but require far less upkeep than tile. Manufacturers like International Marble (IMI) offer a wide range of options for wall panels as well as shower bases designed for safety and accessibility.”

Upgrading bathrooms to create a spa-like experience can also make for valuable marketing opportunities. “A spa-like bathing experience can be a unique selling proposition, especially for residents seeking a higher-end living environment,” explains Kirby. “We have worked with communities who have used this to position themselves as a community that is progressive, resident-centered, and that prioritizes resident health and wellness.”

Enhancements to Create a Spa Ambience

Simple enhancements to resident bathrooms can elevate those spaces and create a spa-like experience.

Cast Marble Walls and Shower Bases: International Marble, a leading manufacturer of cast marble, offers this high-end look at a reasonable price point. Cast marble comes in a variety of styles, allowing you to create a serene and calming atmosphere. Beyond aesthetics, it’s non-porous, easy to clean, and mold and mildew resistant – ideal for senior living environments. Plus, it meets slip-resistant code requirements, ensuring safety without sacrificing style.

Walk-In and Roll-In Shower Options: If your current bathrooms have bathtubs, consider a combination of walk-in and roll-in showers. Walk-in showers cater to residents with some mobility, while roll-in options with zero-threshold entry provide maximum accessibility for those using wheelchairs or walkers. This caters to a wider range of needs and creates a more open and spacious feel.

Rainfall Showerheads and Handheld Sprayers: Upgrade showerheads to luxurious rainfall models that provide a spa-like showering experience. Adding handheld sprayers offers increased functionality and ease of use for residents with limited mobility.

Steam Therapy: Consider incorporating steam shower options from Mr. Steam, a leading provider of steam bath technology. Steam showers offer a variety of potential health benefits, including relaxation, muscle pain relief, and improved circulation. These benefits can be especially appealing to seniors seeking to improve overall well-being. Mr. Steam offers a range of steam shower generators designed for residential applications, ensuring a safe and comfortable steam bathing experience.

These steam showers include safety features that allow residents to use the showers themselves. So they can enjoy the health benefits anytime. “Some common safety features found in Mr. Steam showers include temperature controls, time controls, automatic shut-offs, safety valves, and overheat protection,” says Kirby.

Bathroom Additions that Prioritize Safety and Comfort

Safety is paramount in resident bathrooms. These features not only contribute to a comfortable bathroom environment, but can also optimize resident safety.

High-End Grab Bars: Strategically placed grab bars throughout the shower are essential for safety. However, grab bars don’t have to look institutional. Look for designer finishes like brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, or matte black to complement your chosen style. Designer grab bars offer the same support as traditional chrome bars while elevating the overall aesthetic of the bathroom.

Shower Seats: Built-in shower seats provide a safe and comfortable place for residents to bathe while seated. Consider fold-down seats to maximize space when not in use.

Non-Slip Flooring: Non-slip flooring provides increased traction underfoot to prevent slips and falls, especially important in wet environments. It’s available in many finishes, so you can choose flooring that enhances and complements your bathroom décor.

Temperature Control: Scald safety is paramount. Consider installing pressure-balancing valves or thermostatic mixing valves to prevent accidental scalding.

Strategies for a Successful Bath Renovation or Build

Kirby notes that creating a luxury bathing experience can be as simple as selecting upgraded accessories or adding steam systems to existing showers. However, a renovation can be as extensive as replacing existing bathing features. “Renovation is the name of the game in senior living these days,” she says. “Communities we work with are increasingly replacing outdated tubs that are difficult for residents and caregivers with walk-in or roll-in showers,” she says. “Manufacturers that offer multi-piece solutions are a perfect fit for renovations. We can work with your designers and general contractors on a solution that meets everyone’s needs.”

As you plan your bath renovation, consider working with a specification manager. A specification manager can help you find products that are both code compliant and that incorporate these key design elements. Additionally, a specification manager can help plan for a custom shower that doesn’t break the bank, possibly even arranging for a manufacturer to pay for bath molds if the product you need does not exist.

By incorporating elements like steam therapy and walk- or roll-in showers, you can transform senior living shower enclosures into beautiful, functional, and spa-inspired havens. This not only enhances the resident experience but can also be a key factor in attracting new residents to your facility.

Topics: Design , Facility management , Featured Articles , Housing , Risk Management , Senior Environments