Understanding Bathroom Equipment
Using the bathroom, whether for toileting or bathing and showering, is an important part of every person’s day. When a person has special needs and requires equipment to assist with this process, ease of use, comfort and safety all require careful consideration. This Letter from a Therapist will provide you with simple explanations of common pieces of adaptive bathroom equipment to help distinguish between the benefits they provide.
Toileting & Commodes - Pieces of equipment in this category can be as simple as a reducer ring which is placed on the toilet seat to decrease the size of the opening in the seat and help children feel more secure. Or, this equipment can be much more complex, for example, for physically limited adults that require a mobile seat with a back, arm rests, and footrests that can be rolled over the toilet for use. When the term commode is used, it refers to the fact that the piece of equipment can be used independently of the toilet (free standing in a bedroom for example) because it is equipped with a removable commode bucket.
Bathing - Soaking in the tub can have several therapeutic benefits. Of course, getting squeaky clean is one of them but for some people it’s the only place they experience their increased muscle tone finally relaxing. For others, it’s the buoyancy properties of the water that allow movement of their arms and legs which may not be possible when attempting to move against gravity. Bath Chairs offer support to a user with poor postural control who cannot sit independently. Bath chairs are placed down inside the tub and offer varying degrees of head and trunk support in the upright or semi-reclined position. This allows a user to safely sit in the tub water.
Showering - Showering maybe the easiest way to assist a person with physical limitations with routine hygiene care. But without the right equipment, the common tasks required for this process can be challenging. Wet and slippery surfaces are difficult to navigate safely regardless of level of independence or amount of assistance required. A mobile shower chair that can be rolled into a walk-in shower (a shower that can be entered without stepping up or over a barrier) is probably the safest solution. Many Shower chairs have options for recline (lowering seat back) or tilt in space (tipping the whole seat backwards while keeping the angle at the hip the same).
Bath Lifts - Helping people with special needs into and out of the tub can be tricky business. And the bigger they are, the trickier the process becomes. Bath Lifts facilitate tub-side transfers with ergonomic positioning of the user and the caregiver. No more back breaking lifts on slippery, wet surfaces! The Bath Lift Seat is placed inside the tub and in its raised position does not leave a gap between the side of the tub and the indwelling Bath Lift Seat. The user can sit down on the seat at the edge of the tub and either lift their legs over the tub side independently or with help, while safely seated. With the touch of a button the Bath Lift will then lower and recline the user down into the tub for washing and soaking. When finished, another touch of the button raises them back to the height of the edge of the tub, so they can again move their legs out of the tub while seated before rising to standing or moving into a wheelchair.
Bath/Shower Transfer Chairs - Bath Tubs, whether free standing or built-in, can offer a significant accessibility issue to people with physical limitations. Even a shower stall with a lip can make getting in with a simple rolling shower chair very difficult. Often, the first thing people think about is remodeling their bathroom. But that can be expensive and time consuming. Another solution is a Bath/ Shower Transfer Chair. This chair allows an individual with special needs to be transferred from bed to a mobile seat that can be rolled into the bathroom and connected to a Transfer Bridge. The Bath/Shower Seat is simply slid off the mobile base onto the stationary base frame positioned within the tub or shower. By limiting the number of transfers required, this system helps everyone stay safe and comfortable, expend far less energy and minimize risks on wet, slippery bathroom floors. Many systems also include a seat back recline function as well as full seat tilt-in-space technology and many can be rolled over the toilet for toileting.
The world of bathroom equipment can be a complex one! Manufacturers have worked hard to make the larger pieces of equipment versatile so that in one piece of equipment many bathroom needs can be met. Please reach out to us at 1-800-371-2778 with your questions. We have therapists on staff with many years of experience. They would be happy to explore equipment options that can help you avoid costly bathroom remodels and ensure every one’s safety, comfort and ease.
We’re here to help!