What Are Bathing Aids?
Posted by Kate Makin on February 5, 2021
Put simply, bathing aids are any pieces of equipment or mobility aids that will help you to get in and out of a bath safely. As an occupational therapist, probably the most common task that I see individuals having difficulty with, is bathing.
There are many different types of bathing aids available depending upon the style of bath you have and the type of assistance you require. There are bathroom grab rails, bath steps, bath seats and bath boards, bath mats and pillows and bath lifts. All of these mobility aids are designed to make getting in and out of a bath safer for you, and anyone assisting you, as well as making your bathing experience more comfortable and enjoyable.
Why Are Bathing Aids A Good Idea?
Bathing aids are a good idea as for many people there is nothing quite like being able to soak in warm water to relax and ease any aches and pains. There are many known therapeutic benefits to bathing including reducing pain and inflammation, reducing levels of stress and anxiety and improving your mood. On a more practical level bathing helps you to keep clean and maintain good personal hygiene and most people like to bathe once a day.
Bathing aids are also a good idea as one of the most common places for individuals to fall within their home is in the bathroom. Bathroom aids are therefore definitely a good idea to prevent any unnecessary slips, trips or falls.
Which Bathing Aid Do I Choose?
As there are so many different bathing aids available it can be difficult to know the best type of aid to choose. Often this will depend on the shape and style of your bath and what health conditions you may have. As an occupational therapist I have probably seen every shape and style of bath that exists! I have therefore outlined below the most common types of bathroom aids and when these could be used. This should help as a guide to choosing the most suitable type of bathing aid. If however you still have any questions or queries, I am available for further help or advice specific to your individual needs.
Bathroom Grab Rails
Bathroom grab rails are designed to give you extra support and stability when getting in and out of the bath or shower. They provide something secure to hold onto and can be positioned wherever you would find them the most useful. Typically this would be on the wall beside the bath or beside an over bath shower. Grab rails are available in a variety of sizes and there are various styles available including stainless steel grab rails or rails with a chrome finish.
As an occupational therapist my preference would be to have grab rails that are fixed to the wall as this is the most secure. There are however occasions when this is not possible for example a non-solid wall or temporary accommodation. In these instances suction grab rails are available and these, whilst you must ensure that they are fully secure, do provide an ideal temporary solution. I find that suction grab rails are often used by people when they are staying away from home or going on holiday.
Bath lifts are powered (electric) bathing aids that are designed to raise and lower you in and out of the bath. In short they are a powered seat that you sit on and it lowers you into the bath, you stay sat on this whilst in the bath, and it will then raise you back out of the bath. There are various types of bath lifts available including reclining bath lifts and inflatable bathing cushions.
As an occupational therapist one of the main things that I consider when recommending a bath lift is if other people are going to be using the bath or how often the bath lift would need to lifted in and out of the bath. Whilst bath lifts can be fitted and removed the weight and ability to lift them in and out of the bath, if necessary, does need to be considered. Often if there are other users or a lighter weight option is required an inflatable bathing cushion can be used. Inflatable bathing cushions can also often be used when the style of bath does not lend itself to the use of other bathing aids, for example if it is a corner bath or if the rims of the bath are too narrow to fit a bath board.
Bath Mats and Pillows
Bath mats and pillows are generally designed to increase your safety and comfort when using the bath. There are a range of bath pillows available and these will provide something comfortable to lean against in the bath, particularly beneficial for those with back pain. Foam or inflatable cushions are available. Bath mats are designed to prevent slipping and falling when using the bath or shower as they are made of non-slip material. They come in various shapes and sizes depending upon the shape and style of bath and are a simple yet effective bathing aid.
Bath Seats and Boards
There are a wide variety of bath seats and bath boards available. Firstly there are bath boards which fit across the top of the bath and provide a safe surface for an individual to sit on, swing their legs in over the side of the bath and sit on to wash down from there. Some users will then lower themselves into the bath from the board or perhaps onto a bath seat. There are various things to consider in relation to a choosing a bath board and the main thing is the width of the bath and the width of the rims. There are various sizes of boards available but it is important that there is enough space on the rims of the bath for the board to fit securely to. Bath boards are available with or without handles, if extra support is required.
Bath seats are low seats that attach to the base of the bath with suckers on their four legs. There are various heights and styles available but generally they provide a seat that, in height, is somewhere between a bath board and the base of the bath. Often bath seats are used in conjunction with a bath board but can be used independently.
Swivel bathers are seats that sit on the top of the bath and as they ‘swivel’ around to help the user who may have difficulty turning themselves in this way. The seat has a small handle on the side that is used to turn the seat. So the user would sit on the seat facing away from the bath, swivel the seat and then they would be sat facing the bath. As with a bath board you do need to consider the rims of the bath and that it can be fitted securely but swivel bathers can fit most baths and there is even a swivel bather available for use in a corner bath.
Bath steps can be used to help individuals when stepping in and out of a bath or shower by giving them a higher surface to stand on and therefore reducing the height that they need to step in and out. Adjustable bath steps can also be used to create a series of ‘half-steps’ again to assist in stepping in and out of bath, shower or another part of the home. There are various bath steps available in various styles and there are bath steps with handrails as well as adjustable height bath steps.
Bath steps are designed for those individuals that are still able to raise their feet to manage steps but who find steps difficult and need the overall height to be reduced to make it safer and easier for them to manage.
Bath steps are lightweight and portable meaning that they can be easily put into position and can be used in a variety of places in and around the home.
What Conditions Can Bathing Aids Help You With?
Bathing aids can be of benefit anyone who has some difficulty in getting in and out of the bath and who needs that extra bit of support. This may be due to ageing or any form of illness or disability. Bathing aids can also help people who suffer from extreme tiredness or fatigue by making the task of getting in and out of the bath easier and therefore conserving some of their energy. Some bathing aids may be required as a short term solution for example following an accident or whilst recovering from surgery. Most bathing aids are however required by individuals with long term conditions.
Most commonly bathing aids will be beneficial for individuals with the following conditions:
Joint or back pain
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic pain syndrome
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other breathing difficulties
Stroke and other neurological conditions
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Bathing Aids At Ability Superstore?
Ability Superstore have a wide range of bathing aids available and these aids have always been their most popular range of products. Ability Superstore also have a dedicated customer service team based in the UK, who are available Monday- Friday, 9am to 5pm. You will therefore have someone that you can speak to directly to answer your questions and offer you any advice. Ability Superstore can also be contacted by post, email or a message can be sent via their website.
As a dedicated occupational therapist in the UK for Ability Superstore I am available to answer any specific queries or questions you may have. I have lots of experience when it comes to bathing aids and I am available to discuss your individual needs and what type of bathing aids would be best for you to consider. This personalised, professional advice is not available from all online retailers and makes Ability Superstore a UK based retailer that you can trust and rely on for honest, practical and professional advice.
Be sure to check back next week when I will share with you my Top Ten Bathing AIds!