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Doc M packs: What you need to know

What is Doc M?

Approved Document M – or Doc M – is the part of the Building Regulations that relates to access and use of buildings. It’s a guidance document that accompanies Part M of the Building Regulations in the UK, setting out specific requirements for achieving compliance with the accessibility standards outlined in Part M.

In this guide, we’ll be looking specifically at Doc M packs – what they include, and how to ensure they’re compliant.

Do all buildings have to comply with Doc M?

All public buildings have to comply with Part M of the Building Regulations, demonstrating that they have made “reasonable adjustment to any physical feature which might put a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person”*.

Doc M compliance can look different depending on the size of a building and whether it is a new or existing structure.

What is a Doc M pack?

A Doc M pack is a suite of the products required to create a disabled accessible toilet, shower room, or changing area. It contains a combination of grab rails, supports, sanitaryware and hardware. Let’s take a look at what you’ll typically find in a Doc M pack:

Grab Rails

A grab rail is a fixed rail attached to the wall at both ends and used to provide support for a disabled user as they use the toilet or hand basin.

The projection of a grab rail (how far it sticks out from the wall) must be between 60mm & 85mm. This is to allow space for a user with limited dexterity to easily grab the rail, while ensuring there is no danger of limb or head entrapment in the event of a fall.

The rail diameter must be 32 – 35mm. This is the optimal thickness to allow for a comfortable, secure grip, even for users with dexterity problems. Smaller or larger diameter rails make it harder for the user to get the firm grip required for support.

Note: Be aware of products that are 28mm and 30mm – these are available on the market but are not Doc M compliant.

A hinged support rail is a rail that can lift up out of the way to allow a wheelchair user to bring their wheelchair parallel to a toilet pan or shower seat, then transfer sideways onto the seat. The rail can then be lowered so the user has a fixed grab rail on one side of the toilet, and a hinged grab rail on the other for maximum support.

Hinged support rails can be ‘trombone style’ with a curved end, or a simple horizontal rail. ‘Lift and lock’ and friction hinge lifting mechanisms are both compliant solutions for hinged support rails

For maximum efficiency, a hinged grab rail must extend 50mm further than toilet pan, offering the user maximum leverage with minimum effort. The rail diameter is the same as a standard grab rail.

Hinged Support Rails


A Doc M toilet is taller than a standard toilet pan and must be 480mm from the floor to the top of the toilet seat. This is because a standard wheelchair seat is 480mm – having both the same height means the user only needs to slide sideways instead of lifting their body up and sideways, making transfers easier and safer.

The toilet must project 750mm from the wall to the front of the pan. This is so the seat of the wheelchair aligns with the front of the toilet when the user brings their wheelchair parallel to the toilet.

Doc M toilets should have a paddle lever flush, or an infrared sensor flush. This is so that they can easily be operated by people with dexterity problems or limb differences. A paddle lever flush has a large surface area, which means it can be operated with the hand, wrist or elbow. A sensor flush only requires the user to pass their hand, arm or even torso in front of the sensor to start the flush cycle.

Standard push buttons are not Doc M compliant as they cannot be operated with the wrist or elbow. A projected push button can be used provided it is positioned correctly.

Whether paddle, button or sensor, the toilet flush should always be positioned on the open side of the toilet (the same side as the wheelchair would be) so that it is easily accessible.

Toilet Flush


Doc M bathrooms should have a hand basin positioned so that the user can wash their hands while seated on the toilet. The tap for this basin should be positioned on the side closest to the toilet so the user does not have to stretch or lean across. Basins should be wall hung or have a half pedestal to ensure space underneath for a wheelchair.

Doc M toilets must be usable by everyone, so a second, separate hand basin is sometimes installed at standard height for ambulant users.

Similar to toilets, shower seats must be installed at a height of 480mm from the floor to the seat platform, and should project 650mm from the wall to ensure a seamless lateral transfer. The seat itself must be non-slip for safety.

Shower seat

Tap & Shower Valve

All taps and shower valves need to be operable with a closed fist in order to accommodate people with a limb difference. Sequential mixer taps allow the user to simply turn the handle through cold to hot with no need to lift at the same time. TMV3 valves restrict water temperature to 43 degrees – this is essential to prevent scalds for users with paralysis or loss of sensation, who may not be able to feel when hot water is too hot.

A Doc M shower must have a fixed shower head along with an adjustable one – again, with level controls that can be operated using a closed fist, wrist or elbow. The height of the shower valve must be between 750mm & 1000mm to ensure it can be operated by a seated user.

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