Grab Rails Vs Suction Bars

Grab Rails Versus Suction Rails

Grab Rails, Suction Bars, Bathroom Grab Bars…

There’s a lot of grab rails 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).

So that’s it, please feel free to contact us today on 1300 783 200 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.

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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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