Grab bars placed in the tub will give users something to hold onto as they enter and exit, thus alleviating some balance problems. NKBA recommends grab bars at the tub and shower to assist with this transfer. There are many decorative and attractive grab bars available to match other trim and accessories in the bathroom. It is critical that they be installed so they support at least 250 pounds (113 kg). Some clients may need more support.
The wall behind the tub and shower should be reinforced to support the grab bar. The placement of the bar should be planned where it best fits the user. Figure 6.41 indicates how walls can be reinforced around the tub. If a complete plywood surround is used as reinforcement, make sure
the installation is water-tight, so that moisture does not seep into the plywood and create mold and deterioration of the membrane. This is also true when the grab bars are being installed into the membrane.
Besides bars placed at the back and ends of the tub, a vertical bar at the control end wall is also helpful. Figure 6.42 illustrates where grab bars should be placed in the tub. See NKBA Bathroom Planning Guideline and Access Standard 14 for more details on placement. Standard towel bars and soap dishes will not support someone in a fall and can be dangerous, since they protrude. Recessing soap dishes in the wall places them out of the bather’s reach, while using attractive grab bars instead of towel bars will provide the stability needed if grabbed to prevent a fall.