Bath Seating For Disabled and Elderly Users: Buying Guide

This blog covers all the important considerations for purchasing bath seating for disabled, elderly and mobility-impaired users. 

From the different types of bath seating available to the user’s individual requirements, we will put forward all the important points that you need to know in order to choose the most appropriate seating.

 

What is bath seating?

Bath seating comprises of bath chairs, bath stools and bath boards that have been specifically designed to be used in the bathtub. Made utilising water-resistant material such as plastic and metal with drainage holes on the seat in order to allow the water to drain out easily during use.

These are independent living aids or daily living aids that can be used by elderly or disabled users who no longer feel confident on their feet and require support while either having a bath or entering and exiting a bathtub.

What are the different types of bath seating?

Some of the most commonly found bath seating is as follows:

  • Bath Chairs With Legs: These are simple bath chairs similar to any other chair with four legs and a backrest.
  • Bath Chairs With Armrests: Bath chairs can also come fitted with armrests that can help the user to get support whilst they are lowering or raising themselves from a bath chair.
  • Suspended Bath Chairs: These types of bath chairs have no legs and are designed to sit on the bathtub walls.
  • Bariatric Bath Chair: Bath chairs that are designed for users who tend to weigh on the heavier side. They come with a wider seat and crossbars to support more weight as compared to a normal bath chair. The metal used for the construction of these chairs can carry more weight as well.
  • Bath Stool: If a user does not require back support and or support (armrests) to rise and sit then a bath stool can be used. These are simply seats with 3 or 4 legs that can be placed in a bathtub to allow the user to sit. Variations of bath stools include rotating seat v/s fixed seat, fixed height v/s adjustable height and cushioned v/s flat seating.
  • Bath Boards: Bath boards are flat boards that can be placed on the sidewalls of the bathtub and secured using clamps or suction cups. Ideal for users who find it difficult to get in and out of a bathtub. A bath board allows users to undertake the transfer whilst in a seated position. Bath boards can come with handles on either side to provide more support to the user whilst bathing.
  • Tub Transfer Bench: A long seat with a backrest that can be placed over the bathtub sidewall with two legs inside the tub and the other two outside the tub. Particularly useful for wheelchair-bound users or individuals with weak leg muscles as they can use this bath aid to enter and exit the bathtub whilst in a seated position. Can come with a support rail and the option to adjust the height based on the user’s needs.

What are the commonly found features of bath seating?

Here are some of the features you will find when it comes to bath seating:

  • Backrest: Designed to provide extra support to users who have back issues.
  • Height Adjustability: Bath chairs with legs and bath stools can come with either fixed-height legs or height-adjustable legs. The latter is a better option as it allows you to adjust the height of the bath chair or bath stool based on the user’s needs.
  • Presence of Arms or Handles: Bath chairs can come with arms on either one side or both sides in order to provide the user with more support when they are lowering or raising themselves from the bath chair. Similarly, you will find handles on bath boards that allow the user to hold on to something when transferring in and out of the bathtub or while bathing, this can help improve the user’s safety.
  • Holes for Drainage: Most bath seating should have holes in the seat in order to let the water flow rather than collecting on the bath seat.
  • Padded Seating: Bath chairs and stools can come with padded seating. This is especially good for users who are prone to pressure sores.
  • Cut-out: Some bath seats feature a cut-out to allow the user (or carer) to clean the user’s genital area easily.
  • Fixed, Sliding, Rotating or Swivel Seating: Depending on the model you choose, you can opt for a fixed seat, a rotating seat (bath stools) or a seat that slides or swivels (tub transfer bench) to allow for an easy transfer in and out of a tub.
  • Presence of Suction Cups on the Legs: Bath chairs, bath stools and tub transfer benches often come with suction cups that hold the bath seating firmly in place. This avoids the chair from slipping when the user transfers especially given that the seating is being used in wet areas. Overall a very good feature to have for the user’s safety.
  • Foldable: Foldable bath chairs and bath stools are also available in the marketplace. A good option for those who have limited space in their bathing area and would like to store the seating away when not in use.
  • Extra (Innovative) Features: Some models of bath seating can come with a showerhead holder and a soap holder to provide a better and safer user experience.

What do you need to consider when purchasing bath seating?

  • The Type of Seating: Bath seating encompasses a few different options including bath chairs, bath stools, bath transfer benches and bath boards. You will need to assess what the user’s needs are in order to choose the right type of bath seating for them. It is highly recommended that you consult an occupational therapist prior to determining the user’s needs.  
  • User’s Weight: Each type of bath seating comes with a maximum weight-bearing capacity. Please ensure that you know the user’s weight and it falls within the weight-bearing capacity of the bath seating you choose. This information is clearly mentioned on the packaging of the bath seating.
  • The Dimensions of the Seating: You will also need to ensure the bath seating you are purchasing is the right fit for your bathtub. These measurements can again be found either on the packaging or the manufacturer’s website.
  • Height Adjustability: Bath chairs, bath stools and tub transfer benches can come with the option of adjusting the height of the seat based on the user’s needs. Make sure that the bath seating you choose has this feature.
  • Dimensions of the Bathtub: No matter what type of bath seating you choose, it is always good to have all the measurements of a bathtub handy. These include the width & the length of the bathtub, the width of the sidewall and the dimensions of the floor of the bathtub, in particular the width as you need to ensure the bath chair or stool can fit into the bathtub. 
  • Clamping Mechanism: For suspended bath chairs and bath boards, you need to ensure that the clamping mechanism works well for your bathtub. Clamps ensure better safety, so invest in bath seating that has clamps rather than one that does not.
  • Suction Cups: It is wise to choose a bath chair with suction cups on its feet as this will greatly reduce the probability of slips and falls, especially when individuals are using the armrests to raise and lower themselves on the bath chair.
  • Other considerations: Some of the other things to look for are mostly based around a user’s individual preferences including the availability of padded seating, presence of armrests, the width of the seat, presence of a backrest, presence of a cut-out and presence of a soap and showerhead holder.

 

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