With an ageing population and an increasing number of adult children returning to their parental homes after moving out, multigenerational living in the UK is on the rise.
Research by insurance company Aviva* shows that multi-family households in the UK grew by 50% between 2005 and 2015. Assuming the same rate of growth in the next 10 years, there will be almost half a million multi-family households by 2025.
Having two - or even three - generations living under one roof means families are required to adapt their home to meet everyone’s needs and one room where this can prove difficult, is the bathroom.
Older generations or those with limited mobility may need living aids, shower seats and grab rails, while younger people often want to create a relaxing bathroom with stylish products and accessories.
So is the industry catering for this so-called multigenerational bathroom and does a happy medium for every member of the family really exist?
“When we design bathrooms we should be thinking about longevity, rather than just looking at short-term fixes,” said Stuart Gizzi, Director of bathroom manufacturer Inta.
“Multigenerational bathrooms are not impacting the bathroom market as much as they should be and the industry needs to do more to embrace this growing trend. At the moment it is still a niche market but when you consider the rate at which multi-family living is increasing, the industry is not up to speed.
“As manufacturers we should all be striving to design products that are practical and safe for older generations, yet contemporary and sleek enough for younger people to want to install them. It’s really simple - we need to move away from thinking that bathroom products for older generations are ugly.”
Inta, which has been developing and manufacturing high-quality bathroom products for over 15 years, has designed a series of independent living products for its Ever range that put safety first but do not compromise on aesthetics - including on-trend polished copper and chrome grab rails and a slip-resistant shower seat in black and chrome.
Thanks to copper’s antimicrobial properties, the rail eliminates bacteria quickly, preventing the spread of germs. The polished finish will keep its lustre, while concealed fixings with resin fixing plates mean that it looks neat.
Meanwhile, the strong and sturdy shower seat with contemporary styled slip-resistant black seat and chrome fittings has a maximum load of 125kg, as do the slip-resistant polished chrome grab rails, manufactured from full brass construction with concealed fixings.
“Grab rails, low-level shower trays and shower seats do not have to look like they belong in a hospital,” continued Stuart. “The industry needs to promote future-proofing bathrooms to avoid families having to rip out and replace items further down the line.”
As well as designing contemporary fixtures and fittings, developing the latest shower technology is also crucial to the advancement of multigenerational bathrooms, according to Stuart.
“I think digital showers will actually lead the way for multigenerational bathrooms,” he said. “The benefit of digital showers is that they can be preset to optimum temperature and pressure. Some can even be switched on using a smartphone - so they are ideal for families who want the added reassurance of being able to control these aspects to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their younger and older relatives.”
And while aesthetically-pleasing products and digital innovation are key for the future of multigenerational bathrooms, safety still remains the number one priority at Inta.
“Multigenerational bathroom or not, I can’t reiterate enough how important the installation of a TMV-approved fitting is,” Stuart said. “A basic TMV2-compliant valve costs no more than £40 - it is not expensive when you’re talking about the difference between life and death.”
TMV2 certified valves offer the highest level of accreditation of anti-scald thermostatic mixing valves. Correctly installing and maintaining approved thermostatic mixing valves could help prevent hundreds of thousands of tragic scalding accidents.
Stuart concluded: “Ultimately, multigenerational bathrooms should embrace independence and inclusivity for everybody. To do this, manufacturers need to develop products that are accessible and safe for all ages.”