Getting help with installation of grab rails
First, enlist the help of a family member, friend or professional to work with you to install the grab rails. Many local councils provide a handyperson service, which may be a good way to find someone to help with installing rails for you.
The Which? Trusted Traders endorsement scheme can also help you find a reliable local trader.
Fixing a grab rail for support
If you want a rail to provide support when carrying out an activity, such as standing to wash in the shower or next to the toilet when standing to use it, a good length to go for is 300-450mm.
Hold the rail in the centre, then hold the rail on the wall at the same height as your elbow and slightly in front. Make sure you don’t reach too far ahead. This will mean there’s a good amount of rail above and below the handhold. Mark the wall with a pencil for fixing.
To identify the position of a horizontal rail to push up on, for example when getting up from the toilet, sit down and position the horizontal rail just under your elbow so it’s easy to push up on.
It’s not recommended to have long lengths of rail along corridors as you’ll be better off in the long term if you use a walking aid.
Fixing a grab rail in the bathroom
Rails in the bathroom should always be positioned horizontally or vertically, never at an angle.
Horizontal rails work well to lead the person into an area, for example a shower, or for pushing up on from the toilet.
Vertical rails work well when the person is standing, but needs a handhold when carrying out an activity, for example when adjusting clothing at the toilet or for balance in the shower when reaching down to wash their feet.
You may need to place one horizontal rail to provide standing assistance, and then another vertical rail for holding on for balance. This is a good combination next to the toilet or a shower seat.
Fixing a grab rail on stairs
Match the new rail to the same height as the rail on the opposite side. If this rail feels too high or too low for you, adjust it accordingly.
Installing a grab rail next to a step
Stand at the bottom of the step, poised to step up.
Hold the rail close to one end, with the rest of the rail leading away from the hand.
Position it on the wall at bent elbow height and mark the wall at that end for fixing.
If there is a deep step or a number of steps, position the rail at an angle parallel to the steps and mark the wall at the other end.
If there’s only one step and you can reach the rail without overbalancing, then the rail should be vertical. Mark the position of the top of the rail on the wall. Repeat the method at the top of the step(s). If there are several steps, and you have to reach to the wall to hold the rail, you may be at risk of overbalancing. In this instance, it’s best to choose a rail that starts at the top step and runs down to the bottom step, much like a stair rail.
If you’re having difficulty at home because of poor balance or decreased mobility, consider installing grab rails.
Find advice on stairlifts, wheelchair lifts, hand rails and walking sticks, and avoiding common hazards on stairways.
We explain your options for making bathing easier – including walk-in baths, walk-in showers and wet rooms.