Safety in the Bathroom Products to Assist with Bathing Benches & Lifts

Table of Contents:

INTRODUCTION

More household accidents occur in the bathroom than in any other room. In a series of publications entitled Safety in the Bathroom: Products to Assist with Bathing, the national Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Aging at the University at Buffalo provides an overview of available products for improving safety in the bathroom. While many items have been designed to assist people with disabilities, it is important to note that many of these simple modifications can benefit all.

When adapting a bathroom to accommodate someone with a special need or disability, you should consult with an occupational therapist as you plan. A professional consultant will help you:

  • develop a routine for using the bathroom;
  • understand how to avoid certain dangers in the bathroom;
  • map out a cost-effective plan for changing needs.

TRANSFER BENCH

The bench is suitable for those who need assistance in making tub transfers. The long, stationary seat remains partly inside and outside the tub. A person sits down outside the tub, then moves inside by sliding the body across the seat. The tubular backrest offers hand support. The plastic seat has a built-in rim for water drainage. The suction-cups on the height adjustable legs prevent slippage. While the bench is portable, its size makes it difficult to store.

PADDED BENCH

Thick vinyl padded seats and backrest add to the bathing comfort of those with sensitive skin. Using the handrest for support, the bather transfers into the tub by gradually sliding across the seat. The slatted seat allows water to drip into the tub and the slot at the tubs edge enables the person to draw the shower curtain for privacy. The suction-cups on the height adjustable legs prevent slippage. While the bench is portable, its size makes it difficult to store.

TUB TROLLEY

The trolley is suitable for persons who have good upper body strength. Using a wall mounted grab bar, a person pulls the seat in and out of the tub. The trolley consists of a set of aluminum tracks running perpendicular to the tub, and a plastic swivel seat which rides along the frame on wheels mounted to its base. The trolley frame adjusts to fit a variety of tubs. While it is portable, the trolley’s size and weight make it difficult to store.

INSIDE – TUB LIFT

This portable lift is good for those who may need transfer assistance. Using the household water pressure of 20 psi, the lift transfers persons up to 200 pounds. A person sits on the seat, rotates into the tub, and gradually lowers himself into the water. Water pressure is used to raise the person out of the tub. A special hose and hardware connects the lift to the tub faucet. The plastic seat is mounted on a rust-free anodized aluminum frame. While the bench is portable, its size and weight make it difficult to store.

OUTSIDE – TUB LIFT

This permanently installed lift is suitable for persons who are unable to raise and lower themselves in the tub. A readily available supply of water is all that is required to operate the lift. A person sits in the seat, and is gradually lowered to the tub floor. The fully submersible plastic seat allows full soaking. It is mounted to a stainless steel column and has a safety belt for greater security. Inadequate water pressure can interfere with the lift’s effectiveness. Skilled professionals are required for proper installation.

HYDRO – CUSHION LIFT

The hydro-cushion is suitable for persons who need transfer assistance. It is stationary and attaches with a hose to the tub’s water faucet. To enter, a person slides onto the water-filled cushion and by draining it’s contents, is gradually lowered to the tub floor. To exit, the bag is simply refilled. The water-filled bag weighs 12 pounds and comes with an optional backrest. It is capable of supporting persons up to 300 pounds. Inadequate water pressure can interfere with its effectiveness.

FLOOR-MOUNTED BATHCHAIR LIFT

This lift is best suited for those who are greatly dependent on others for making tub transfers. A person sits on the seat, swings through 180 degrees in the air and clears the tub rim. Those capable of some independence, may manually pump the handle. Others are assisted by care-providers. In some models the plastic seat has a safety belt. All parts are heavy chrome-plated. The hydraulic, non-motorized lift requires installation by skilled professionals and a spacious bathroom is required for operation. The lift is not appropriate for those who fear heights.

TUB-MOUNTED BATHCHAIR LIFT

This lift is suitable for persons, with small bathrooms, who require assistance in making tub transfers. To enter, the bather sits on a plastic seat which is raised until her feet clear the tub rim. By rotating the seat over the tub the bather may be lowered into the water. Those capable of some independence may manually pump a handle to make transfers. All parts of the lift are heavy chrome-plated. This hydraulic, non-motorized lift will require installation and monitoring by professionals. This lift is not appropriate for those who fear heights.

HOYER LIFT

This portable lift is suitable for those who are unable to make independent transfers. Usually a person is transferred onto a suspended cloth sling with straps which adjust the seating position. A hydraulic or mechanical jack provides the lifting power. The sling rotates 180 degrees for easy tub entry and exit. The lift can transfer persons up to 400 pounds. It rests on five casters, two of which have locking brakes. The 70 pound tubular steel structure is chrome-plated. The lift requires a spacious bathroom for proper operation.

POWERED LIFT

This electrically powered lift is best suited for persons with mobility problems. The individual wears a stainless steel and nylon lifting harness, which is connected by a chain to a track mounted on the bathroom’s ceiling. By using a remote control device, the person is lowered and raised in and out of the tub. The harness provides a safe and comfortable grip on the bather’s body, but still allows the underside to be free for easy access. This lift requires installation by skilled professionals and a spacious bathroom.

Also see our web page on seats for the bath.