Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.

Episode 11: Interview with Division Manager of Ponte Giulio USA, a Company Specializing in Bathroom Safety Equipment for Successful Aging In Place

May 04, 2022 Janet Engel, OT/L, CAPS
Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.
Episode 11: Interview with Division Manager of Ponte Giulio USA, a Company Specializing in Bathroom Safety Equipment for Successful Aging In Place
Show Notes Transcript

Becky Wright, CAPS, Division Manager at Ponte Giulio USA and expert in bathroom safety products for both residential & commercial projects, educates us on all things safety for the bathroom. Becky goes into detail about all of the amazing, beautiful, and accessible products made at Ponte Giulio USA. Please listen to learn how installation of simple equipment in your bathroom can translate into big changes in quality of life and independence. 

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[00:00:00] Janet: And today we have Becky Wright with us. She is a certified aging in place specialist. She is also the division manager at Ponte Giulio USA which is a company that has been making bathroom safety products for over 45 years. Becky, thank you for being with us today 

[00:00:21] Becky: thank you. It's nice to be with you, Janet.

[00:00:23] Janet: Yes, I am so excited to learn about the products that your company makes in several of our past shows. We have discussed bathroom safety, but we've never really discussed products in detail. So I'm really excited to learn about everything that's out there. And I just want to mention. Your company, the cornerstone of their branding has been to create innovative style for creating beautiful aesthetics in the bathroom.

[00:00:59] Janet: I'm a [00:01:00] big champion of, because one of the big problems with aging in place, or I would say a misconception is that people think that if you design for aging in place, it's going to be ugly and it's going to look institutional and your company has made it possible to create a different aesthetic and make it pleasing and a seamless.

[00:01:26] Janet: So tell us about everything. Your company has. Let's start with grab bars. 

[00:01:33] Becky: Okay. Okay. Very good. Well, like you mentioned, Ponte Giulio has been making bathroom safety products for over 40 years. This is our. The core of our business. This is what we do. It's not a little side business. So we have really put all of our efforts into designing manufacturing, engineering beautiful products that are high quality [00:02:00] and that do the job well that that meet the needs of the end user.

[00:02:05] Becky: So we have we have been making grab bars, for example. For many years we have lots of options. A lot of times when people think of grab bars, they think of that big fat, ugly silver bar that they see in a restaurant or in when they're in some sort of a public And those are very functional.

[00:02:32] Becky: They do the job well. They're kind of what I refer to as like the commodity grab bar. But that is, that's a commercial grab bar and that is not what you need to have in your home. And I think that is part of the reason people are resistant to wanting to put, grab bars in their home and they think I don't want that big ugly thing in my house.

[00:02:51] Becky: And ADA grab bars Th there you have two options, you can get an inch and a quarter diameter or an inch and a half diameter. The big [00:03:00] fat one is the inch and a half. All of our grab bars are an inch and a quarter. It's just a little bit smaller. It works better with smaller hands and it just is not such a beast.

[00:03:13] Becky: If you will. We have lots and lots of different finishes, lots of different shapes, things that work really well, that are attractive, that can be used in a home and will really help make the home a lot safer. Well, still being beautiful. They can blend right. In. One of the things we have is a vinyl coated grab bar.

[00:03:40] Becky: It comes in up to 15 different colors, so you can get them in white, which is kind of their traditional, that's what we sell the most of. But they also come in blacks, grays, we've got reds, yellows, blues, and greens. A lot of variety. So if you have colored walls in your bathroom and you [00:04:00] want everything to coordinate and things to just blend in, there's a grab bar that you can find that's probably going to blend into your wall.

[00:04:07] Becky: It's not going to stand out as much, but there are also people that have low vision. Certainly as people get older, they can they can lose some of their vision. And it can be difficult for them to see the grab bar. When you have a white grab bar on a white wall, it kind of gets lost. So for those folks we recommend contrast put the black one in the bathroom.

[00:04:30] Becky: That's got a light gray wall it's going to really pop off while still blending in and looking very nice. So we 

[00:04:36] Janet: have 

[00:04:37] Becky: brought that up. Yeah. Is that something that you have. 

[00:04:40] Janet: Well, as soon as I saw your products, that was the first thing that came to mind was, oh, this is for people with low vision.

[00:04:49] Janet: And so that's why you have all those bright colors because it's a perfect use for people to identify where one thing is different [00:05:00] from another, and especially a safety feature that you want to be obvious. Right away. And apart from it being helpful to just be able to see it.

[00:05:13] Janet: The grab bar. We'll also create a horizon line in the bathroom, which will decrease your fall risk. So that's yeah, that's another added benefit to having color contrast 

[00:05:29] Becky: bathroom decor. Right. And it's the vinyl coated is a really, it's a product I'm super excited about. I've talked to people about it every day.

[00:05:37] Becky: The vinyl coating the color is very nice and it has certainly has applications for your vision and being able to blend it in or contrast it, whatever you need. But it's also anti-microbial we've had it for many years. It protects against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Obviously we haven't tested against, COVID not [00:06:00] letting people test with COVID virus at this point.

[00:06:02] Becky: Right. But it does it has been tested with H1N1 and so it's a nice option. It's helping keep bathrooms more hygienic than just a regular metal grab bar. Very easy to clean, very easy to maintain. It's also a little bit warmer to the. Which is great if if the patient or the client homeowner has neuropathy, which is nerve damage to their hands touching something cold can feel very uncomfortable.

[00:06:32] Becky: It can hurt the hand and then people don't want to touch it. So the vinyl coding, it kind of reflects the temperature of your hand back to your hand. So it definitely feels warmer than any metal grab bar. And it has a superior non-slip grip, even if it's wet or dry. So it can be used by a toilet where it's going to pretty much be dry or could be used in a shower where it's going to be splashed and get wet.

[00:06:56] Becky: So really fabulous option. I highly [00:07:00] recommend it to folks all the time. We also have grab bars that are decorative that lime green, some really cool matte black colors, things that are really. Really decorative that can look very modern in a bathroom. So fabulous options there.

[00:07:19] Becky: But we also have lots of different shapes of grab bars. Most folks are familiar with a straight grab bar that they've maybe seen and straight grab bars come anywhere from a 12 inch to a 48 inch. So there's lots of options in between for different lengths of what you can do with that. But we also have grab bars that are a combination grab bars.

[00:07:43] Becky: And towel holder. So really nice to have something like that, right near the entrance to your shower or your bath tub keeps that towel really close at hand for you. We have some grab bars that are shaped, like handles and there's actually, it's a set of two and a lot of [00:08:00] times what people do is they Mount them like on either side of the mirror, especially if they have to be seen.

[00:08:06] Becky: When they are at this, at the sink then they can reach up and pull on those grab bars to help themselves stand. And I like them because you can do them so that they are horizontal. They are vertical they're somewhere in between. So whatever is the most comfortable grip for the person who's using them.

[00:08:25] Becky: I also liked them because they can be used. Not just by the mirror, but they could almost be used anywhere. It's a really versatile different shape that is available out there. We have. L-shaped grab bars. So they're longer on one side shorter on the other side. And they can be placed with the long side going up and down or the long side, maybe going along the toilet and then maybe a 12 inch vertical at the end so that they can help get up.

[00:08:54] Becky: We have really cool products like a to wall transition, grab bar. [00:09:00] That has a twist in it. So you would Mount that again, outside your shower. So one of the flanges would Mount into the wall and then the grab bar itself actually twists and goes around. And the next flange It's on the outside of the wall.

[00:09:15] Becky: So kind of, if you can imagine like a four by four piece of wood, it's one is going to Mount on the front and the grab bar twists around and the other side mounts on the side. So it kind of twists around. So it's a nice way for some people to get out of their out of their shower and kind of also helps them get in because it is, it puts the grab bar.

[00:09:39] Becky: In a slightly different location. So it's not just right by the shower. It's CA it comes across as you getting out. I 

[00:09:46] Janet: would think I would be very versatile because that's one of the biggest uses of the grab bar. And most of the time why I recommended one was to help people get in and out of the shower.

[00:09:58] Janet: And it worked really well [00:10:00] one way, but it didn't always work well, the other way. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. I can see how, and what's the name of that particular 

[00:10:08] Becky: product that is called a to wall transition grab bar. Okay. So it's a neat product. And we have it shown in our catalog actually in a picture.

[00:10:21] Becky: We used to have it just the individual product but it's called an environment picture. So it's in a bathroom scene and it really makes it a lot easier to see. How that grab bar works. When you just, if you don't see it actually mounted on the wall, it's kind of hard to imagine how it's gonna work.

[00:10:39] Becky: That, that picture has really made it a lot easier to understand how the product works. We also have like round grab bars. Those are fabulous for putting around the faucet in a tub or around the the mixer that controls your shower so that you have a grab bar right there by your.[00:11:00] By your controls.

[00:11:01] Becky: We have grab bars that are attached to stainless steel shelves, so they can go in the corner of a shower and you can store shampoo or any personal care items in there. And then along the front is an actual grab bar that will support your weight. So it's not like the little Just soap dish or whatever that you might hang up on the wall that if you grabbed hold of it, you're quite likely to pull it out of the wall if you were falling.

[00:11:28] Becky: So it's really true grab bar. That's nice. And then we also have folding grab bars which is really almost another category. So there's lots and lots of shapes, but then there's folding grab bars and they will. Fold up to the wall and then down when you need to use them. So really nice if you have a small space, if you need to get any help getting up, but you want to have something that can be, you don't want out of the way.

[00:11:54] Becky: Yes. Yes. And we have lots of different options there. We have one that's kind [00:12:00] of U shaped. That one has a neat feature that you can fold it up. To the wall and then it rotates flat. So it will take up even less space, which is really nice. And then it folds down when you need to use it. We have other styles that are just like a single arm that will fold down and they come in a variety of lengths.

[00:12:22] Becky: So those are really nice products for folding up and getting out of the way when you don't need them. Really I'm conscious of the fact that The bathrooms are not usually the largest space and it, and as you get older you really need to have a little bit more room for to move around when you're in the bathroom.

[00:12:42] Becky: And so for storage. Yes. Yes, absolutely. So 

[00:12:48] Janet: circling back to the grab bar, a shelf that's in the shower. I really like that product because one of the issues that I [00:13:00] ran across when I was an OT going into people's homes is that they would, they either had no place to store. There shampoo their conditioner, their soap.

[00:13:11] Janet: And so that would end up on the floor. So you have these big containers, heavy containers that of course end up being slippery as you're bathing. And then they were also trip hazards as people were getting in and out of the shower. And so one recommendation that I would make frequently was instead of having a big bottle of shampoo or bath gel, put it in a travel container and then put a suction cup shelf.

[00:13:43] Janet: And then you can just store it there, but I like this even better because now you're not having to fill small containers frequently. And it's something that looks beautiful. Right. And it's [00:14:00] seamless. And now not only have you decrease your fall risk by not having things on the floor of your shower, but another thing that would happen often was that the bottle would fall.

[00:14:13] Janet: On a person's foot. And so when you have a bottle of shampoo or a bath gel fall on your foot, it hurts. 

[00:14:20] Becky: It does. And I know exactly what you're talking about with that. My daughter, when she was little, we used one of those suction cup, plastic things. Kept her bathtub Barbies in it. So the Barbies were in there, so they weren't super heavy, but boy, there was a lot of them.

[00:14:36] Becky: She liked to have Barbies in the and I thought that was a really good use of that because it's well, it's a Barbie doll. It's not going to hurt you. But some of those giant bottles of shampoo that you can get those get really heavy when they're. Yeah. 

[00:14:48] Janet: And they're hard to manage for example, like you said that you guys make smaller grab bars for smaller hands.

[00:14:57] Janet: Well most of [00:15:00] the people aging in place are women because women live longer than men. These products need to be friendly for females. 

[00:15:08] Becky: Yes. Yeah. And the thing about an inch and a half and a quarter grab bar is it works just fine for a large man's hand as well. You want to be able to get your hand around that entire grab bar?

[00:15:21] Becky: It, so it works for every size that the larger size grab bars They really I think were originally designed for a man's hand. They've been around for years and years. And that's kind of how things were originally. Now. ADA started some of the The guidelines were based on like young men coming back from Vietnam that were in wheelchairs now.

[00:15:47] Becky: And they needed to have things that would assist them. And that's the group that ADA was originally designed. 

[00:15:56] Janet: Yes. Someone else mentioned that in another episode. [00:16:00] And I also wanted to mention that ADA is for commercial use. Not for home use a lot of people don't know that you can have it. 

[00:16:11] Becky: Go ahead.

[00:16:11] Becky: You explain it. Well ADA is. It was designed to make public buildings more accessible to folks that were in wheelchairs or had some disabilities or are just older. So it really, I don't know that it was originally designed for people that were older and wanted to age in place, but that's kind of where it's gone and they they really were not necessarily the most.

[00:16:39] Becky: Th they were what is average and I guess, yeah. One size fits all, does not really fit everybody for some people it's too big for some people it's too small. Same thing applies for grab bar. So if the ADA says a grab bar should be 36 inches from the floor, that's what they're going to do in a public building because it's [00:17:00] kind of a one size fits all placement in a home.

[00:17:04] Becky: You can still use an ADA rated grab bar and for grab bar. What that means is. Diameter, the bar is an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half. And the space between the inside of the grab bar and the wall is an inch and a half. So your arm does not get stuck between the grab bar and the wall. So that's what makes it a grab bar ADA.

[00:17:25] Becky: So the actual grab bar itself being a. ADA works really for everybody. But it's the placement that when you're working with somebody in a home if you are really tall, you may be need that grab bar higher. If you are petite, you may be needed lower. You may be needed because of the way you move.

[00:17:48] Becky: You may be needed a little further forward. Sometimes if it's At GraBar that's being installed by somebody who just generally works in construction and does not have any kind of training [00:18:00] for aging in place. They're going to say, I've got to put that grab bar at 36 inches. I got to put it back in the corner.

[00:18:06] Becky: Well, I don't know if you're getting up off of the toilet. I don't think you are putting your arm way back in the corner to help yourself get up move it forward a little bit. So the grab bar is in the place where the person is going to use it. That's why, when, if somebody has some questions, they're just not sure where something should go.

[00:18:25] Becky: I always recommend that they contact an occupational therapist who can come to their home. They can do an evaluation, they can really help get the right placement get the right product and put it in the right place. I 

[00:18:41] Janet: totally agree with you. I can't tell you how many homes. I've walked into, I would say at least 60% where the grab bar is in the wrong placement.

[00:18:52] Janet: Usually it's too high and it's in the wrong location. And then in the shower or in a [00:19:00] wet area, you have to have a textured grab bar unless you're using a product like yours that has the vinyl quoting and is non-slip. And so that's a very common mistake that. You will see is that people have smooth grab bars in the wet areas.

[00:19:17] Janet: Or another thing is that they, then they use their grab bars as a towel holder, which drives 

[00:19:23] Becky: me crazy. Right. And if you really feel like you need to have a, I gotta put my towel on it. Well, then get yourself one of those 48 inch ones. So it's really super long. And the tool's way down at the end, not where you're working and not where you might slip or fall.

[00:19:39] Becky: A couple of things. I always like to tell people about grab bars before we move on to anything else is a vertical grab bar at the entry exit of the shower or bath is. If you do nothing else, that is the place. And everybody in America should have a vertical grab bar at that location. [00:20:00] And I think that lot, like you said, a lot of people Mount it too high.

[00:20:05] Becky: They they're standing there, they're doing the installation, they mounted up there, but I always like to take it a step further and say, okay, It's the worst case scenario you have now slipped and you have missed the grab bar and you have fallen down. So you're laying on the floor in your shower and wouldn't it be nice if you could reach your grab bar to help you get up.

[00:20:26] Becky: But if you have mounted it too high or the grab bars maybe it's only a 16 or 18 inch and it's up at eye level, you probably are not going to re be able to reach it. If you are on the. So I recommend just consider putting in a longer grab bar. It's going to work for everybody in your home.

[00:20:46] Becky: If you have young children, or if you have grandchildren that are visiting as they're stepping out, if it's at their level, they will instinctively hold on to that grab bar. As. Tall husband. He might need [00:21:00] it a little taller. All you need to do is get a longer grab bar. Exactly. And it will look better.

[00:21:05] Becky: Yes, it absolutely will look better. I have a one of the vinyl coated grab bars in a light gray in my bathroom. My bathroom walls are light gray. You don't even see it. I know it's there. I use it every day. I just have a little two-inch lip on my shower trays. So it's not a big step for me at all.

[00:21:24] Becky: I look at it and think, well, I'm not going to slip and fall there, but I know better. So I hold onto that grab bar every day, when I get out of this. 

[00:21:32] Janet: Well, and the thing about accidents is you don't know they're going to happen. That's why they're called 

[00:21:37] Becky: accidents. That's right. And if you don't have to be older to slip and fall, no, a two year old.

[00:21:46] Becky: I mean, I've, I bet every two-year-old in America has slipped out of the tub and falling down. They're kind of like little gumbies they usually they bounce right back and are just fine. It's also possible. A 15 year old can fall [00:22:00] in slip on something it's wet in the bathroom. They slip.

[00:22:04] Becky: Next thing they have fallen. They've hit their head. You can have traumatic brain injury, you can knock your tooth out. It can be really awful. I think of grab bars as an insurance policy. They're like the seatbelt of the bathroom. They. They keep you safe, they help keep you safe. And really I believe they should be in every bathroom in America.

[00:22:28] Becky: It shouldn't be agree with you. It would be great if it was like building code, because I think that's the only way it's really gonna ever happen. But I'm, I don't want to preach to the choir, but grab bars are fabulous and I think everybody should have them in every home. Yes. 

[00:22:46] Janet: I heard this one story of this woman that was only in her twenties and she fell in her shower and it resulted in a spinal cord injury.

[00:22:57] Janet: And so she became a quadriplegic [00:23:00] overnight because of a fall like that. And it's was like you're when it's wet, it's slippery all of the surfaces around you or are hard. Yes. And you're in a small space. Anything can happen and just on a side note, that's how I feel about.

[00:23:18] Janet: Having a shower chair or a bench in the shower, I think it's very important for people to be seated. Well, let's say they're washing their feet or washing their legs when you're no longer looking straight out, if you're looking up or you're looking down your balance automatically changes.

[00:23:37] Janet: And so if you're in a place where it's wet your fall room, Suddenly skyrocketed, but if you're seated while you're performing these tasks, you're going to be much safer and you're going to do a better job doing the task and it doesn't have to be an ugly shower chair. It can be just a bench that.

[00:23:57] Janet: Automatically put into your design or [00:24:00] let's say you can have a teak bench. Those are really pretty. And they last, so that's just a side note on shower safety. 

[00:24:08] Becky: Well, and I have Conti Julio has more. Shower seats and shower benches and bathtub benches. Then probably we just have the greatest selection, different styles, different shapes, different color options.

[00:24:24] Becky: We have a huge variety. Most of them are folding seats. So they fold up, they Mount to the wall, they fold up when they are not in use, some have legs. Some people like to have that extra security of having legs that fold down and really, they feel like they're on a chair. Other people are comfortable just having the seat fold up and down.

[00:24:46] Becky: We have both of those options. We have a beautiful Okoume Wood that looks like a teak, but it's Okoume is a Marine wood that's used in boats and things like that. [00:25:00] Beautiful seat. Very spa. That's how people generally describe that they like that spa look, but we have beautiful white seats.

[00:25:08] Becky: We have them in gray just lots of options. That's great. We even have a temporary shower seat that. Hangs on a grab bar. So you have the grab bar, the horizontal grab bar in your shower. That's just a basic safety product that you have there. But now you might need a temporary seat. I'm always reminded of a number of years ago.

[00:25:34] Becky: I had to have surgery on my Achilles tendon. And they told me that I would be 21 days in a non-weight bearing cast. Okay. That'd be fine. Well, oh my gosh. That was the longest 21 days of my life. I could not believe it. And I would have loved to have had temporary seat that I could use in the shower.

[00:25:57] Becky: It would have been wonderful. But I [00:26:00] didn't have it. I didn't work at Ponte Giulio then, and I didn't even know the seat existed. But it's great. If somebody is recovering from a surgery where they're going to be just kind of laid up for a few weeks or a couple of months, and they just need a little extra security when they're in the shower, but they don't necessarily want to install a seat or they don't have room for a seat.

[00:26:22] Becky: So there are options that are temporary. One that is well, that's 

[00:26:27] Janet: great. And what's the name of that product? 

[00:26:30] Becky: That is that is a, I think it's called just a hanging removable seat. Let me just look at the page here. It's called a removable hanging shower seat and it's really a fabulous option.

[00:26:43] Becky: For folks that just need something temporary and then they can just store it so they can just bring it out as they need it. Sometimes people are concerned about having, installing something in their in their bathroom that might in their mind might reduce the resale [00:27:00] value of their home.

[00:27:01] Becky: Really, if you have a nice, beautiful shower seat as part of your shower, I don't see how that would ever reduce the value of your home. It's not going to look institutional. It's going to people are going to go, oh, there's a great place. I can sit down on that. I can shave my legs or. Whatever.

[00:27:19] Becky: And it really does add some value to home. It makes the home more attractive to somebody who thinks, oh, I've never had one, but boy, wouldn't that be nice? Or I had one, one time when I was at a hotel and I really loved it but we also have some freestanding stools that are available. We have a bath tub bench that mounts to the wall and it folds up and down.

[00:27:43] Becky: And then. Side that folds down actually rests on the side of the tub. So there's some neat options in bathroom seating, in shower and bathtub seating, there's lots and lots of things that we have available that they're very [00:28:00] comfortable. We certainly have seating that is, is ADA for commercial products are for commercial projects.

[00:28:07] Becky: But we also have an number of options that are absolutely fabulous for residential, that a little bit smaller commercial need to have a certain size and certain placements. So we have lots of things that work there, but they also can work in residential just in slightly different places. 

[00:28:23] Janet: So the product that you just mentioned that breasts on the side of the tub.

[00:28:29] Janet: Yeah. So that would also double as a, let's say a tub transfer bench. 

[00:28:35] Becky: It could the, this, once we have, they don't go all the way. Necessarily to the edge, although we have, they come in two different lengths, a 27 inch wide and a 32 inch wide. So if you ha, if you're thinking you want to use that as a transfer bench most times.

[00:28:55] Becky: The 27 inch is the appropriate size. Just the, from the [00:29:00] wall to the edge of the tub. But if you went with the larger size, it's going to come out a little bit further and then it could potentially work for you as a transfer bench as well. Okay, that'd 

[00:29:11] Janet: be great. And one other thing I wanted to mention about.

[00:29:14] Janet: Sitting during bathing bathing is one of the most tiring tasks that there is from when we talk about activities of daily living, we're referring to dressing, bathing, grooming hygiene, and we may not realize it until we have health problems or for example, like when you were in that cast and you weren't able to weight bear, and then you realize.

[00:29:46] Janet: How taxing bathing can be. And so that is another reason why having a chair will really increase the safety and then also increase your function and thereby [00:30:00] increasing your independence with bathing towels, which most people, they want to be independent with bathing tasks. It's something very private, right?

[00:30:10] Janet: It's very important that you have the necessary equipment not just for your safety, but to enhance your independence and your fun. 

[00:30:20] Becky: And sometimes it's you've been out shoveling snow or it's just been cold. It's really nice to just relax in a nice warm shower and having a place to sit down and have that warm water hit.

[00:30:36] Becky: You can be just very relaxing for anyone. When you just need. Sore muscles or it's just been co you know, I just think we're in Wisconsin, we do get those cold winters and come in from shoveling and you're like snowman. So it's really nice to have the option of having a nice warm shower and being able to sit down and relax.

[00:30:59] Becky: [00:31:00] Yes. 

[00:31:00] Janet: I agree with you. So another product that I saw on your catalog that I really is the storage shelf for outside of the shower area. That also has a grip. 

[00:31:14] Becky: Can you tell us about that product? Yes, that is our wall hung cabinet line. We have a couple of different sizes, couple of different options.

[00:31:23] Becky: They are really designed for the accessible bathroom. One of the things we also do accessible sinks which are. In a traditional home, at least here in the Midwest where we are there's like a counter it's it's a piece of it's wood usually, and the sink is dropped in and then there's drawers for storage.

[00:31:45] Becky: When somebody needs to have an accessible sink, what that really means is it's a sink that's wall. So that if somebody is in a wheelchair or they need to be seated, their legs will fit underneath the sink so that they can get a little bit closer. When that [00:32:00] happens. They've really lost all that storage that used to be in that cabinet.

[00:32:05] Becky: So the wall hung cabinets are a really nice option for giving you the storage you need for your toothbrush and all those other things that you need to have stored in your bathroom. Well also, The option of having a grab bar. So the grab bar actually is part of the mounting system for the cabinetry and it works like a real grab bar.

[00:32:28] Becky: So you can grab hold of it. You're not going to pull it off the wall. It's not a towel bar. It's definitely a grab bar. And then the cabinet will you have. The full door or you have, in some cases, there's a partial door where a couple of shelves are open and then the middle section is closed. So we've got it in two different ways, comes in a variety of colors.

[00:32:48] Becky: It's a real nice product for what I consider to be safety hiding in plain sight. When. I was going to say, you can't tell at all that it's a grab bar. [00:33:00] No, you can't. It just looks like it is part of the cabinet, but it really is a grab bar. It really does work for for you can hold on to it while you're standing.

[00:33:10] Becky: You can use it to help pull yourself up. Like the toilet, if you have it mounted across from there or next to that. So it gives you it gives you lots of options and you can Mount it on either side as well, 

[00:33:23] Janet: and it'll even fit in a small bathroom because it doesn't have a large profile. 

[00:33:27] Becky: It doesn't.

[00:33:28] Becky: And it really, if you have had to take out a sink cabinet where you used to have that storage, you really, all of a sudden you're looking around, well, where am I putting my toothbrush? Where am I putting the anything that you used to store in the drawers on some makeup or the hairbrush, any of those things, you don't want them all sitting on the top of your sink, but if you don't, if you've taken out your storage, you really lose that option.

[00:33:53] Becky: Having a cabinet is a really it's fabulous. And if you're going to put in a cabinet, [00:34:00] why not have a grab bar hidden right there with it that nobody else will even notice. And even 

[00:34:05] Janet: larger products like women's briefs or pads. I often see them on the. Yeah. And that's another big no-no anytime you put something on the floor, you've created a trip hazard and now you've decreased the clearance that you have you've decreased your walking past.

[00:34:26] Becky: Right, right. Keeping that floor open and clear is really important. And it's very important for everyone. I think everyone has tripped while they were walking and then they've turned around and looked and think, gee, what did I just trip on? And it's maybe that little pebble or whatever.

[00:34:43] Becky: And that, that kind of thing happens in the bathroom as well. The more things that you have to trip on. The more likely you are to trip. So keeping the floor clear of anything is definitely to your advantage. 

[00:34:57] Janet: Yes, I agree. [00:35:00] So tell us about your shower 

[00:35:02] Becky: enclosures. We have our shower and closers, excuse me.

[00:35:07] Becky: Are therefore accessible showers. And we have three different styles. The really cool one is what's called a split door, shower enclosure. It's a 36 by 36 inch shower space and the doors. Open, they meet in the middle and they open wide, so you can open it completely to step in. But what this door has is it's halfway up the door.

[00:35:33] Becky: There's a handle that you can open just the top of the door. And that is designed for the caregiver who is maybe helping somebody with their showering. So if you have your mom living with you and she needs help washing her hair, she maybe has some shoulder injuries. She just can't get her hair washed anymore.

[00:35:54] Becky: It's a great option. She's on a sh a stool in the shower. You can open the [00:36:00] top of the door, help her get her hair shampooed and get it rinsed. And then. You can just shut the top of the door and what it does is it prevents the water on the bottom part of the shower from splashing. So the caregiver's not getting all wet when they're assisting with summer.

[00:36:17] Becky: Yep. It's really a cool product. And and that is, it was really designed for the caregiver. We also have. And enclosure that has a low door. So it actually it's a door and it also has a shower curtain and that door. So if you have a family member who has no issues, they just open the little door at the bottom, walk in and pull the shower curtain, and they take their shower.

[00:36:43] Becky: But if you have somebody who is transferring from a wheelchair low door, the entire thing swings open. So the entire length of the shower is, which is, I believe 48 inches is now open and they can transfer into the shower. The [00:37:00] door can close the shower, curtain can close and they can take their shower and bathe and get in and out very easily.

[00:37:08] Becky: So that's a neat option. And then we also have an accordion door that it is It opens wide. So I don't know if you've ever been on like a cruise ship or something. They have, they sometimes have accordion doors and sometimes they only open like the middle section opens and the other the other sections are stationary.

[00:37:28] Becky: So you kind of have to squeeze in there. This one opens wide, so you can get it really wide. And again, have a lot of access for getting in there. Okay. Wow. That's 

[00:37:37] Janet: great. So just tell us about any other product that you know, we generally the public isn't aware of that Ponti Julio manufacturers. 

[00:37:50] Becky: Well I did mention a little bit about accessible sinks.

[00:37:53] Becky: I just wanted to come back around to those. They are fabulous sinks. We have a [00:38:00] huge selection of sinks available. And accessible sink. As I mentioned, it's a wall mounted sink. It does not have any, it's got open space underneath it. But we have sinks that have a curved front, so they're concave.

[00:38:13] Becky: So the person who's seated can get a little bit closer. We have sinks with extra space for storage at the back of the sink. So if they did want a store, a toothbrush or something there that. Quite a bit more space on the actual sink itself, kind of replacing the former counter that might've been there.

[00:38:34] Becky: We have sinks with elbow rests, so if you're seated and you need to rest your elbows somewhere for to help keep them give them a secure location to To sit while you do things with your hands. They we have elbow rests. We also have our seats also have a 330 pound load capacity.

[00:38:54] Becky: So if you're leaning on the sink they're not going to come off the wall if you've mounted them properly. [00:39:00] They will support that 330 pound load. Some of them have built in grab bar. At the front or on the side that can be used either, truly for a grab bar or a pull to help pull up maybe a wheelchair closer to the sink, or if you don't need it for that purpose, you can hang a towel on it.

[00:39:17] Becky: And there are other models that have like under counter drawers that can be attached as options. So then you can get a little bit of extra storage kind of off to the side where you can still easily be seated at the sink, but then off to the side, there's some extra storage and there can be some undermount drawers there.

[00:39:37] Becky: So really lots of options in the accessible sinks. It's a real cool. Product line for folks that are now maybe suddenly having to think about how do I be seated while using a sink? We also have some accessories things that A number of things. But the one I really wanted to mention is we have a [00:40:00] handheld shower holder.

[00:40:02] Becky: So what you would do with this is you would Mount usually I like a vertical grab bar instead of the shower slide. So if you're going to have a hand shower holder it has to be mounted somewhere. And a lot of times you can. Plumbing situation, you would just get what they call it. A shower slide.

[00:40:22] Becky: Basically. It's a towel bar that will hold that. So it slides up and down so you can make it higher or lower, but it doesn't have any real firm support in the wall. So if you, instead of using a traditional shower slide, you Mount a vertical grab bar. Now you have a true safety product on your wall. And then our handheld shower holders fit on that grab bar and then they will hold any standard hand shower head.

[00:40:54] Becky: Oh, that's great. Yep. So it makes it, it's a really, it's another way to kind of have [00:41:00] some safety hiding in your bathroom. You're not going to see it. You're not going to necessarily recognize it as a grab bar because it's holding your hand shower. And then we also have another removable toilet paper holder that you can attach to a grab bar.

[00:41:14] Becky: Sometimes if if people have a full down grab bar and they don't have toilet paper dispenser, sometimes there was just the toilet paper that. Like on the floor, kind of a little holder. And again, you wanted to keep your floors clear. If you have a toilet paper holder that can attach to a grab bar it's going to be where you need it.

[00:41:34] Becky: But it's going to keep your floor clear. So you're not going to have a trip hit, tripping hazard. 

[00:41:38] Janet: Yeah, well, this is great. You've told us about so many different products. Some that I didn't even know existed but that absolutely revolutionize your bathroom, make it accessible, make it functional. You make it safer.

[00:41:54] Janet: And at the same time you make it beautiful. You make it contemporary [00:42:00] and you've increased the value of your home. 

[00:42:03] Becky: Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the other things is we do offer warranties on our products. They're quality products and Ponte Giulio definitely stands behind our products.

[00:42:16] Becky: So we we guarantee that you're not going to have any defects with those products. We have built in safety safety items, like a. Tension hinge in our folding grab bars and also in our folding shower seats. So you will not accidentally get it halfway down and then you let go of it. It's not going to continue to drop down.

[00:42:38] Becky: It's going to stop right there. And that's adjustable. So if it starts to loosen up over time, you can just like a little quarter turn of the set key and you are good to go. It's tightened up again. 

[00:42:48] Janet: Okay. And what about when it comes to installing these products? Is it something that. Can easily be done by a contractor or perhaps by a lay [00:43:00] person?

[00:43:00] Becky: Both for the most part the main thing you always have to remember when installing bathroom safety products is that there should be blocking in the walls. And what blocking is either want to hit the studs or blocking and blocking is basically a piece of wood that has been. Attached between the studs.

[00:43:22] Becky: So basically it makes the entire wall a stud. Having that kind of any, anything that's going to support your weight, you want to have, you don't want to just put it into a dry wall or tile. It's likely to come out. There are anchors that can be used as well. We, as the manufacturer, we do recommend hitting studs blocking those would be the first two.

[00:43:46] Becky: Two options. And in some cases there are some really nice anchors that will support like 800 pounds. They're pretty big. But they can be used as well for S for some things. But that's one of the things that if. [00:44:00] If we could spread the word to builders to include blocking everywhere in the bathroom when they are building a home, or if they are doing a bathroom remodel, it really does not add substantially to the cost of those projects.

[00:44:18] Becky: But in the long run, when the homeowner now needs to add a grab bar and there's already blocking where they need it, then it can just simply be installed. If they have. If you need to put in that shower seat and there's no blocking, and there's no studs where you need it. Now you're going to have to maybe even rethink what product do you want to use, unless you're going to open that wall and add some blocking in there.

[00:44:44] Becky: Certainly we always in Italy where our company is based, they they have homes that are 400 years old. So the. They just have to be a lot more inventive in how they do things. And they sometimes will use something that I refer to [00:45:00] is external blocking, which is basically maybe like a one by 12 board that they cut and put where they need.

[00:45:07] Becky: They attach it into the studs that are in the wall. And then they paint it to match the wall. A lot of people really don't like the idea of what that's gonna look like, but depending on your budget, you may not have the funds to open a wall and do a big bathroom remodel. In which case, external blocking is one way that you can get the safety products you need get them placed where you want them without having to to pay for a big remodel.

[00:45:37] Becky: Yes. 

[00:45:37] Janet: I've seen that quite often where people have done external blocking, and I'm glad you brought up planning with aging in place, because that is what aging in place is about. It's about planning, not waiting until you need something to make those changes. It's actually kind of like preventative health the reason you [00:46:00] get mammograms.

[00:46:01] Janet: You know is to detect cancer early, right? That's why we get Cola colonoscopies. So it's the same thing with aging in place. You want to plan for it so that you can stay in your home and it's not a big stressor and you're not spending all kinds of money and in a very bad position where you have to make tough choices.

[00:46:25] Janet: So thank you for bringing that up because. That is a crucial part of aging in place is planning for what you may need tomorrow, not what you need to do. 

[00:46:36] Becky: Right. And if you can if you can get that blocking, if you're doing a bathroom remodel you don't really want or need the safety products right now have your contractor put that blocking in the wall before they put the new drywall up.

[00:46:52] Becky: And then I always recommend that people take a photo of it before they put the dry wall up. So you can remember w where is that blocking that I can [00:47:00] put the shower seat with. So I know, yep. I might want to have a grab bar over here, so where's the blocking. And then just leave the, if you sell the house, leave those photos and the next homeowner, when they want to install a shower seat or they want to install, grab bars, they're going to certainly appreciate the fact that you went ahead and did that.

[00:47:20] Becky: When the walls were open it can save the homeowner thousands of dollars. If you don't have to open up your walls, it will save you thousands of dollars, bright 

[00:47:30] Janet: and Becky tell us for someone who's interested in buying your products what's the best way to learn more. Cause you mentioned.

[00:47:39] Janet: Got a laundry list of products so that they can look at things more closely and figure out what they need. 

[00:47:47] Becky: Okay. Well you can see all of our products on our website which is. pontegiulio.com, which is P O N T E [00:48:00] G I U L I O. Pontegiulio.com is our website. But we also have a print catalog.

[00:48:08] Becky: So if somebody is interested in having a print catalog they should reach out to me. I'm happy to to send them a catalog. And then there's a variety of places. That our products can be purchased. And then if somebody has a question they could check with me on that. Occupational therapists, contractors, they can they can purchase from us directly.

[00:48:32] Becky: We, there are a variety of websites that carry Ponte Giulio products. I would just record if you're looking for something you can always Google Ponte Giulio products and. And you can see any of the websites that carry them would come up. Otherwise you could reach out to me directly at our office in Wisconsin.

[00:48:52] Becky: And do you have a phone number? I do. I'll give you the toll free number. It's 8, 7, 7. 7 [00:49:00] 6 6 8 3 0 1. And that is our office in Wisconsin. And we cover the entire United States and Canada kind of the north. We are the north American office. And I can also give you my direct phone number that will come directly to my office.

[00:49:18] Becky: And that is 2 6, 2. 5 2, 2 6, 6, 8, 7. And again, my name is Becky, right. And you can ask for me they will transfer you to me if if you call in on the seven, seven number and I'm happy to answer any questions that anybody has. Well, 

[00:49:39] Janet: great. Thank you so much, Becky. I learned so much today. You've offered invaluable information to our listeners and I'm sure.

[00:49:49] Janet: You've also offered hope because people think, oh, I can totally make my bathroom accessible. Even if your house was built in the 1970s, [00:50:00] or maybe even in the 1930s I walked into those homes as well. And so you can completely recreate. Your bathroom is static and make it safe and functional and accessible all at the same 

[00:50:12] Becky: time.

[00:50:13] Becky: Absolutely. There are so many options today. It does not have to be that big fat, silver grab bar that you see in a restaurant. You have so many more options than that. I mean, our catalog is 190 pages of bathroom safety products. We have a lot to offer. 

[00:50:31] Janet: Well, that is great. And that was a great note to end the show with you do not have to settle for that big silver ugly grab bar.

[00:50:41] Becky: That's right. Thank 

[00:50:43] Janet: you, Becky. I hope you'll come again on the show. It was a pleasure speaking 

[00:50:48] Becky: with you. Yes. Thank you, Janet.