Grab Rails Vs Suction Bars

Grab Rails Vs Suction Bars

Grab Rails Versus Suction Rails

Grab Rails, Suction Bars, Bathroom Grab Bars…

There’s a lot of grab rails and suction bars on the market, but do they do the same thing? Importantly, are they safe and reliable?

You’re no doubt aware that grab rails are a reliable support in the bathroom and toilet. They help you perform the necessary daily activities and can be a “life saver” especially if you’ve almost had a fall.

But, we’ve seen rails and grab bars fail over the years and in this article we compare the features of grab rails versus suction bars.

If you’ve had a fall, it’s either a cold shock of the unexpected or you’ve been fearing a fall for some time.

Let’s drill into one of the factors which may contribute to a fall, lack of suitable support, like a bathroom grab rail or a toilet grab bar. The bathroom being a wet area, is a zone of the home where your therapist may look at falls prevention strategies.

The regular as clockwork question we often get is “Can You Use A Suction Grab Rail Instead of A Grab Into The Wall?” 

This is especially the case if you’re renting or in temporary accommodation and asking the landlord to install a grab rail appears to be a difficult proposition.

Grab Rails Vs Suction Bars: Common Questions and Issues

  • Australian standards guide installation of grab rails in certain types (class) of buildings.  At no point in the standard are suction grab rails recommended.
    • It is worth noting the residential home is excluded from mandatory application of the standard AS1428.1 under the Building Service Act.
    • It’s clear a person’s home can have its challenges. An OT will work with you to figure out the best solutions for your specific needs. Your OT will take some strong leads from the standard to guide grab rail installation for safety and practical universal application. This is especially the case in major home modifications. However, you’re personal needs are always one of the most significant considerations your OT will analyse.
  • Suction rails are only as good as the attachment and the surface they are attaching to.
  • What about grip indicators, you know those colour indicators when suction is good and not so good? In risk management terms, “Signage”  is a low level control, the best control is to Eliminate the hazard. So, it make sense that the best solution is an attachment to a suitable load bearing fixture.   In the end, if you’re to rely on suction with indicators, you run the risk at some point it is very likely to fail.
  • Is there a role for suction bars to substitute grab rails? Look some folk will want a portable suction grab rail in their pack for those situations where there isn’t one. We appreciate this, though in the bigger picture, universal access should be a priority. That said, a client recently went on a cruise and chose to pack  2 suction grab bars in their luggage. For them, it was a function saver.  That was their choice, however, we would encourage you to always speak with your therapist to advise you on the best grab rail/ falls prevention and functional solution for you.

You’d appreciate that Grab Rails Ain’t Grab Rails. ( If you’ve read a few other Occupational Therapy Brisbane blogs there is a theme to that one..see Rehabilitation Goals for example).

Are you looking at doing home modifications at your home to make it easier or safer more practical?

Take the guesswork out of what may work for your situation by engaging an occupational therapist. Sure a grab bar may be part of the solution but there are also many other practical and often low cost or no cost solutions that should be considered first before big changes.

What Are Grab Rails Used For In The Home

You would be surprised at the different grab bars we’ve seen in people’s homes.  From innovative applications in the kitchen to the downright dangerous in bathrooms.   We’ve even seen when suction bars have failed, pulling off whole tiles from a wall.  Yes, we’ve seen grab rails everywhere. That said, there are common areas in the home where the grab bar is used;

  • Shower Grab Rails
  • Bath Grab Rails
  • Grab Bars To Replace Towel Rails
  • Toilet Grab Rails
  • Bedroom grab bars
  • Task Specific Areas

When Should You Consider Using A Grab Bar

The common daily living challenges that we are called to work with people and consider recommending grab rails for are;

  1. Rails to help with safety and falls prevention: If you’ve read a few articles on our website, you would appreciate that a fall is a major threat to a person’s independence. A fall with catastrophic injuries may mean that a person is no longer able to live in their own home. So, what are you falls risks at home? Here’s a home falls prevention checklist ( a home audit tool) that we put together. You can grab your copy HERE:
FREE REPORT: Home health & safety checklist

Here's How You Can Be Safe At Home (Free Checklist)

To DOWNLOAD Your Free Copy either use your preferred social media service or your email – it’s that easy!

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  1. Bars to help improve your ability to do a task independently: Whilst you might have though “why bedroom grab bars, would they really work?” for someone who is living with the impact of a stroke, having a steady support to complete specific tasks may mean the difference of having a personal carer or not.

Here’s How An Occupational Therapist Can Help You With Minor Home Modifications

OT Brisbane was formed in 2012 by founder David Norris with a vision to provided total person OT services for people living with a neurological condition and complex needs.  If you’re trying to cut your risk for having a fall at home or you’ve a fierce determination to do as much as possible for yourself an occupational therapist can help you acheive these goals.
  1. Firstly, the therapy process starts with initial consultation. In this session you can expect the OT to identify your strengths and challenges and can provide advice on the design, aids, home modifications and rehabilitation strategies that may work for you.  Yes, a home modification may be an outcome but we pride ourselves on looking at all the best OT solutions which may be work for you.
  2. Secondly, should a home modification be recommended it may involve small or minor changes or larger more complex home modifications solution.
  3. Thirdly, we’ll help get quotes and connect you with a builder to complete the works. We’re able to provide OT services to people who are self funded or who are supported by Aged Care or NDIS OT provider packages.
  4. Lastly, we’ll make sure the home modifications have been achieved to the standard we set out and this is checked off in a final consultation.
So that’s it, please feel free to contact us today on 1300 783 200 or complete the form below and our practice management team will call you to discuss your personal situation and see if we may be able to assist you with your goals be it for falls prevention or independence.

Get In Touch With Us

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Other Occupational Therapy Brisbane Blog Resources

If you’re on the neuro- rehab journey here’s information that other people found helpful.
  • Recovery After Stroke One Year (Plus) Later: 6 Resources For Your Recovery One Year (Plus) After A Stroke Years after a stroke, is it too late to improve? Recovery after stroke is commonly a long journey.
  • Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms: 7 Resources To Help You Get Up To Speed About What Are Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms.

The Occupational Therapy Blog is a news and health promotion initiative.  It by no means aims to be a source of medical or therapeutic advice. We enjoy sharing information and will attempt to curate it as best we can.  You’d appreciate we like to lighten our blog articles which often tackles very serious issues. It’s our way of sharing.   The information contained on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, or intervention.  Always seek the advice of your GP or qualified therapist with any questions you may have regarding your personal situation. Never substitute or delay seeking professional advice because of information you’ve read on this website.

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