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Grab rails – which to choose

Being able to live in your home and maintain your independence as long as possible is important. But small changes like adding grab bars around your home can prolong your independence, your quality of life and freedom to continue living as you have been.

There are a number of reasons why you may be feeling unstable on your feet – such as pain or weakness in your legs, breathlessness, back pain, dizziness or fatigue… A grab rail can be fitted anywhere in your home where you need extra support – and give you the confidence to move around safely.

Grab rails are simple, sturdy supporters  – from contemporary styles to build your own systems, choose the style that best suits you.

Here are just 5 different ways you might use a grab rail:

  • To push or pull up with when standing up
  • A steadying support when going to sit down
  • An extra grip to hold on to when transferring from one position to another
  • For balance when walking around the home, up/down stairs, over the doorstep
  • Extra support when carrying items

A grab rail can be fitted anywhere that you need extra support. If you find you are using a wall, radiator or door-frame for support, a grab rail would be safer.

What types of grab rails are there?

The quick answer is either fixed with screws or attached by suction pads…

1 Straight rails

These are wall-fixed rails which run in one direction only. They can be fixed in a horizontal or a vertical position, or at an incline or angle.

Horizontal rails may help when pushing up from sitting and a little extra support when lowering down – getting on to the toilet for example. Most of us find it easier to push down on a rail rather than pull on one, so horizontal rails are more commonly used. Horizontal grab bars allow you to rotate your body, are sturdy when you pull yourself up to stand and make it easier to get in and out of a wheelchair and into bed, chair or bath. They are limited to a fixed height, so that can be a downside. They can also make it uncomfortable for arthritis sufferers because of the way you have to rotate your wrist.

A vertical rails may help you when pulling up into a standing position or just to maintain balance. Vertical grab bars are easier to grip, help with limited balance and are easier to use for people with arthritis. Because of the direction though, vertical grab bars provide less wall coverage when you’re walking than other grab bars.

Setting the grab rail at an angle can ensure a steadying support – e.g. standing up from a bath board to shower, fitting the rail at an angle of 45 degrees up and away from you. This will keep your wrist in a neutral position. It may also not be necessary to lean as far forward to grasp the rail at the lower end. You can then allow your hand to travel up the rail to maintain the support as you go to standing. Diagonal grab bars can accommodate several different heights too.

2 System rails

Need a longer length or have a larger area together, put together to make a customised shape. Fix to the wall around the bathroom with bends and angles to suit you.

3 Suction pad rails

Using air pressure to fit grab handles allows an easier and quicker installation, and unlikely that you will need to hire someone to fit. Nowadays, some include indicators to let you know if the attachment is safe enough. They can only be fitted on flat and non-porous surfaces. You must be careful leaning on them and they tend loosen over time, check each time before use and if unsure, refit again.

Experimenting with suction pad grab rails to make sure when you permanently fix, they will be in the right place. If recovering from minor surgery or fracture, they can add ease recovery and boost confidence. Since they are portable, you can take them with you when you travel too.

Choosing which one and where to fit will also depend upon your grip, arm strength and space available. We would encourage you to talk to family members and your Healthcare professional if you are unsure, before purchase.

Our grab rail range is for permanently fixing to the wall with the option to have a combination of  vertical and horizontal rails to help you. They will need a handy man to drill to the wall.

Where to position your rails

Correct positioning of grab rails is important to ensure they provide the support, where necessary, to perform specific tasks. Check out online guides on how to fit.  We include a fitting guide with each product.

Remember, you will need to consider

  • What you need & where
  • the amount of support you require
  • your height and weight
  • the amount of mobility and strength you have in your hands, arms and shoulders.

Where you shouldn’t fit grab rails

You shouldn’t fix rails to a bathroom floor that has been sealed and made waterproof, as it will destroy the seal and potentially become costly to repair.


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