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Accessible bathrooms: disabled baths

A woman using a disabled bath

For disabled or elderly people, getting in and out of the bath can be a difficult task. Some people struggle to lift their legs over the side of the bath, while others find it difficult to stand up from sitting down or to get out safely. Perhaps the slippery surface is just too dangerous for somebody with mobility or balance problems, or the fear of falling is just too high. If this is the case, it is time to look at the options that are available for disabled baths (and fortunately, there’s many of them!)

Everybody wants to be able to stay clean and feel fresh, so when a regular bath starts to get difficult to use, it is important to look for alternatives. Firstly, think about what exactly you’re struggling with, and what assistance you might require.  Then, it’ll be easier to find the accessible bathroom aid that suits you. We’ve listed some down below, creating a handy little bathroom aid guide just for you. So, whether it’s bath lifts, hoists, boards or seats you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered in this article!

 

Disabled baths: options

Bath lifts are placed within a regular bath and the individual sits on the lift, which then lowers them into the bath and, later, raises them out of it. They are most often suited to people who can sit on the side of the bath and raise their legs to get them over the bath rim. They do not require too much hassle or expense but will not be appropriate for every disabled or elderly person. Bath lifts can be removable, which is ideal for homes where other people use the bath, too, or they can be fixed to the wall or the floor.  Have a look at this video of an accessible bath lift that might just suit you!

Bath hoists

Hoists for the bath are a solution that is perfect for many wheelchair users who would be unable to otherwise use a bath. They can be mechanical or powered and they include a seat attached to a column that enables the user to be lifted, moved and lowered into the bath. Mechanical hoists usually require somebody else to operate them, whereas powered hoists can be operated by the user or by a third party, so consider the amount of assistance that will be available to you before you purchase one of these; being home alone with only a mechanical hoist will be a frustrating experience, and certainly not much fun.

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Walk-in baths

Walk-in baths are specially adapted baths that have a door on the side so that a person can walk into the bath and walk out again afterwards. This avoids the problem of needing to lift your legs over the rim of the bath and helps to enable independence, but is only useful for those who are able to walk in and out of the bath, so may not be an appropriate solution for most wheelchair users. Additionally, the bath is empty when the user enters it and it is filled up once you are in place, so it might not be a great choice for you if you feel the cold and have circulation issues. After your bath is complete, you need to drain it completely before opening the door to avoid flooding.

Bath seats

If you are able to climb in and out of the bath but would struggle to stand up from the usual bathing position, a bath seat can be an inexpensive and effective way of keeping clean. Positioned within the bath, the seat has sturdy, slip-free feet to avoid accidents and the user can use an over-bath shower or the bath itself. Swivel seats are another option – they are level with the top of the bath but can swivel round so that the user sits in it before they move their legs and feet into the bath.  Bath seats with holes in the seat are also available (similar to a commode), so you can ensure that every area of your body is getting a good wash and clean.

 

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Bath boards

Providing a similar solution to a bath seat, a bath board is a secure seat that lies flat across the top of the bath. Perfect for people who are able to swing their legs over the side of the bath but not steady enough to remain standing, a bath board is another affordable solution.  Remember that bath boards do not provide back support, so they may not be suitable for you if you require support when lifting your legs but won’t have an assistant with you every time you bathe.

Grab rails

Grab rails are very useful pieces of equipment for around the home if you are disabled and in need of a helping hand every now and again. The grab rails are securely attached to the wall and can help you to get in and out of the bath without fear of slipping and falling as easily. Grab rails can look funky, too! They are no longer sold in just a clinical white colour, and chrome or even colourful grab rails can really blend into (or make a statement in) modern bathroom decor.  So don’t let any previous perceptions of grab rails being medical equipment put you off investing in some to make your time in the bath much easier and safer.

This is just a selection of the options available for disabled people who want to continue to use their baths as normal. For inspiration, look at this Pinterest board, and seek advice from a physiotherapist or occupational therapist if you wanted tailored information about your own situation.

Finally, don’t forget to look into disabled bathing aids to help you to get clean once you’re in the bathroom.

We hope that these bathroom aid hints and tips will enable you to enjoy getting clean and fresh in an accessible and inclusive way.  If you’re still not sure which piece of bath equipment would suit you and your additional requirements best, why not chat to your family members and friends, health workers or even your local doctor? Here’s wishing you a bath time that is fun, enjoyable and safe once again.  

 

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