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Product Advice

Bathing products – choices and options         

There are lots of products available from our website that will make it easier and safer to continue using the bath when it’s become difficult through age or disability. Years Ahead occupational therapists, David Barwood and Maggie Winchcombe, give you some basic safety information and a few questions to help you choose products that will be right for you.

Our top tips for bathing safely!

Non-slip mats

Always use a non-slip bath mat, or non-slip strips, in the bath. Lots of accidents occur because of the wet, slippery surface in a bath or shower.

Hand Rails or Grab Rails

hand rail fitted beside the bath will give you something safe to hold on to when getting in or out of the bath. It should be securely fixed with screws into the solid wall beside the bath at a position and height that suits you, or the person using it, when getting in and out. You can push down on a horizontal rail and pull up on a vertical rail. Some rails are angled to help when standing up or sitting down (e.g. to use the toilet). Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fixing it and, if in doubt, use a suitably qualified tradesman to fit it for you.

Did you know?

  • A rail with a slip resistant, fluted or ridged finish will provide a safer grip for wet hands.
  • Metal rails fitted in a bathroom should be earthed.
  • A bath safety rail could be fitted to the outside of the bath to give you a safe handhold for getting in or out of the bath.
  • Hand rails can also be fitted in shower areas and besides the toilet to provide extra support.

Bath Boards

If stepping into the bath is difficult due to poor balance, painful hips or weak leg muscles, then another way to do it is to sit on a bath or shower-board and lift your legs over the side of the bath one at a time.It also gives you somewhere to sit and wash down or shower in the bath safely.

You will need to have good balance and upper body strength to use a bath board which does not have a back support, but there are other options that offer this if you need it.

It is inadvisable to try to go from the bath board right down into the water.It reduces the room you have in the bath and there is a high likelihood of tipping up the bath board when attempting to get up from the bottom of the bath back on to the bath board again. A bath seatand board combination might be another option to consider.

The length of the bath board/shower board should be the same as the width as the bath.To get the right one, take the measurement from the wall beside the bath to the outside of the bath.The board should be securely fitted with brackets that clamp to the inside of the bath. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on fitting it and weight limits for use.

Did you know?

  • Bath boards come in different widths as well as lengths, which might give you a more secure and comfortable seat.
  • If lifting your legs over the side of the bath is difficult, a leg lifting-strap might help.
  • A bath board with a built-in handle offers extra support when getting on or off.
  • Soft, padded bath boards are available for extra comfort if your skin is sore or sensitive.

Bath Steps

bath step with a slip-resistant finish will make it easier to step over the side of a high bath. It can also be used in conjunction with a bath board.If so, the height should be measured to suit, when sitting on the bath board (or equivalent product) to get on or off.

Bath Seats

You could use a bath seat combined with a bath board - this combination can help you get into the bath and down closer to the water.

Bath seats come in a range of heights; 6, 8 and 12 inches [15.2, 20.3 and 30.5 cm]. They sit in front of the bath board, and are usually secured to the bottom of the bath with suckers.

The best way is to sit on the bath board, swing your legs over the side of the bath and then once you are sitting in the middle on the bath board facing the taps, lift and then lower your bottom down on to the bath seat.

Did you know?

  • It’s advisable to use a bath seat with a bath board because it could still be a struggle to get up from such a low seat in a bath.

Bath Lifts

Bath lift chairs offer you a safe, assisted means to get down to the bottom of the bath and then back up again. They fixed on the bottom of the bath with suckers and are usually powered by re-chargeable batteries. There are different sizes and shapes of hand-sets/control units available. The seat has hinged flaps on either side that fold down on to the rim of the bath to sit on. If your bath has integral handles you will need an accessory to stop the flaps getting caught in them is the lift rises.

To get on and off the bath lift, the seat should be brought up level with the rim of the bath with the flaps resting on the top. You sit on it, then slide across, lifting both legs over the side of the bath, one at a time.

They can be awkward to lift in and out, for cleaning or for other people to use the bath, so bear this in mind before you decide.

Did you know?

  • All bath lifts have a back-rest which offer better support
  • You can choose from models with a fixed back-rest or those with a reclining back.
  • A reclining model will allow for a more comfortable semi-reclined position in the bath but do require more space, which may not leave enough room to straighten your legs. You will need to check out the length of your bath before you decide on this option.

Bathing Cushion Bath Lift

An alternative method for getting down to the bottom of the bath and up again which will allow you to fully recline in the bath is a bath lifting cushion. It uses an air compressor to power the lift. You will need good sitting balance to use a bathing cushion bath lift easily, but it has the added advantage of being lightweight to take in/out of the bath if necessary.

Bathing Accessories

Long handled sponges and washers will help to reach extremities.

A towelling flannel strap could help you wash your back.

Showering products – choices and options

Showering may be the best long-term solution if you have significant mobility problems. Whether you opt for an over-bath shower or a shower cubicle there is a wide range of products that offer useful features for your safety and comfort to think about.

Our top tips for showering safely!

  • Reduce the risk of slipping:
  • Most shower cubicles and floor tiles have a non-slip, safety surface, but you can add self-adhesive non-slip strips for additional grip underfoot.
  • Lots of accidents occur because of the wet, slippery surface in a bath or shower.

Hand Rails or Grab Rails

When fitting hand rails for support in the shower area a commonly used arrangement is to fix a horizontal rail under the shower unit and a vertical rail alongside them.

Did you know?

  • A rail with a slip resistant, fluted or ridged finish will provide a safer grip for wet hands.
  • Metal rails fitted in a bathroom should be earthed

Bath or Shower Board

If stepping into the bath to shower is difficult you could sit on a bath or shower-board and lift your legs over the side of the bath one at a time. It will also enable you to sit to shower in the bath.

You will need to have good balance and upper body strength to use a bath board which does not have a back.

The length of the bath board/shower board should be the same as the width as the bath. To get the right one, take the measurement from the wall beside the bath to the outside of the bath. The board should be securely fitted with brackets that clamp to the inside of the bath. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on fitting it and weight limits for use.

Bath Bench

This sits on top of the bath like a bath board, but extends over the side to make it easier to get on and lift your legs over the side.

Swivel Bather

A Swivel Bather is fixed in place on the rims of the bath and has a lockable, swivelling seat with arms and a back. It offers more support than a bath board or bath bench to sit and shower.

Standing in the bath to shower

A bath step may help with stepping over into the bath, and a vertical hand rail on the wall is advisable.

Most shower riser-rails are not designed to be held on to. Hand rails with a slip-resistant, fluted finish are best in wet areas.

Did you know?

  • A thermostatically controlled shower is the safest way to shower without variations in temperature.
  • Fitting a longer shower hose will make it easier to use to sit or stand and wash your hair over the bath.
  • Sitting to shower is safer; but always use a slip-resistant mat in the bath.
  • Bath boards with a built-in handle offer additional support to get on and off. Alternatively, you could fix a horizontal hand rail on the wall adjacent to the bath.
  • There are wall-fixed shower boards available which will hinge-up out of the way for other people to use the bath.
  • There is equipment available designed to fit corner baths.
  • Long handled sponges and brushes will help reach the feet and back.
  • A fluffy, towelling dressing gown will help to get you dry and warm easily.

Shower stools, seats and chairs

There are shower stools, seats and chairs that will enable you to sit and shower safely, but some are more suitable for shower cubicles than others.

Options for cubicle showers:

If your shower cubicle has a high step to negotiate a non-slip, height-adjustable step and wall-fixed hand rail may help with getting in/out.

When choosing a shower chair or stool make sure it will fit inside the shower cubicle and will not damage it if it is made of fibreglass. Most are height adjustable.

Perching stools have a sloping seat to lean on if you just need a bit of support to steady yourself to shower or wash at the handbasin. Some of them have arms and a back as well.

Shower chairs, that have arms and a back, offer the most support but tend to take up more space than the stools.

There are wall-mounted shower seats that will not damage the base of the cubicle and will fold up out of the way when not in use. They have to be fixed to a solid wall that will take the weight.

Did you know?

  • A longer shower hose, 1500mm to 2000mm in length, will give you extra reach, which may be useful if you need someone to help you shower.
  • Sitting to shower in a cubicle will be safer and less tiring than standing.

Options for wet-floor showers:

These can be enclosed with a shower curtain and/or half-height doors, which can be useful if you need someone to help you. A wall-fixed shower seat with the option of arms, legs and back will fold out of the way to save space when not in use. It has to be fixed to a solid wall that will take the weight.

There are shower chairs with wheels which will allow you to wheel yourself into the shower or to be pushed by a carer.

Did you know?

  • Grants may be available from the local council to adapt your bathroom if you have a disability, e.g., installation of a wet floor shower. It is advisable to speak to Social Services or your local District Council to find out whether you might be eligible for this type of provision.

Bathing accessories

Long handled sponges and washers will help to reach extremities.

The ETAC shower sandal lets you clean your feet without bending or stretching.

A towelling flannel strap could help you wash your back