Shower Chair – Definition
A shower chair is a handy tool for those needing assistance in bathing. From babies to the elderly, to the handicapped; the shower chair can make all the difference in creating a comfortable bathing experience. We suggest going over as much material you can in order to select an appropriate model of shower chair for you or your loved one’s needs.
A Shower Chair is generally a stationary seat like a plastic stool or teak shower chair. Confused? A Shower Chair is best described as a mobile chair, a Shower Chair on wheels. Our site is also interactive and a community. Shower chairs can make a huge improvement in the quality of a person’s life; by adding comfort and ease to the bathing process.
Shower Chair Freedom
Sometimes, when you need to bathe but for whatever reason, you find using the shower and standing the whole time causes some considerable discomfort you really should consider a shower chair. The shower chair allows you to sit whilst in the shower and bathe in comfort and pleasure without assistance. In effect, they can make bathing a more pleasurable experience than a shower might otherwise give you.
There are shower seat models for all types of bathroom and shower enclosures. If you are limited on space then you can get fold up shower seats that are made from very lightweight materials, mainly plastic that is strong and water repellent and will last you for a very long time.
Other types of chairs for your shower that are suitable for small spaces include the retractable shower chair. This type of seat is attached to a frame on the wall of the shower enclosure. The seat folds away, either up or down when not in use, but down when needed. If the wall holding the seat is not too strong you can overcome this problem by purchasing a folding shower seat with feet that support the seat.
The great benefit of these retractable chairs is that they usually have a variable height setting which makes them useful for more than one person in the household.
This can be particularly useful if the shower seat is needed by both a man and a woman in the same house. So if bathing has become a difficult ordeal then the shower-chair can renew your enjoyment for bathing quickly and easily.
Bathroom Safety With the Shower Chair
This may surprise you but in terms of personal injury, the bathroom may well be one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. But when you think about it the mixture of shiny surfaces and water and electrical installations does lend itself to accidents and it is probably a good idea to give safety in the bathroom some consideration.
This article is not intended to address all the hazards that may be present in the bathroom. Rather it is intended to point out an easy solution to solve one hazard that is becoming increasingly common.
Purchase a shower chair. Shower chairs can be lightweight, portable, they can fold up or down and be stored in out of the way places but when needed they can quickly and easily be assembled and used in the shower to sit on whilst bathing thus avoiding the need to stand for a long period of time or use the bath, for which slipping is a significant issue.
Before you jump onto Google to search for shower chairs, you can also look for shower seats, benches, and stools as alternative search terms.
Finally purchasing a shower chair is a great idea, but if you are in the process of remodeling your bathroom then why not consider building a permanent shower chair into your shower enclosure, or if this is too expensive then a retractable shower chair fitted to the wall is just as good.
Remember safety in the bathroom is just a matter of sensible precautions and the shower chair is a simple inexpensive way to mitigate the risk of the accident quickly and easily.
Which Shower Chair Is Best?
When we find our mobility reduced from illness, aging, or an accident we come across all manner of “issues” that confront and confound our normal daily living activities. Notwithstanding all other issues, our daily bathing routine is possibly the most difficult to manage in a dignified manner.
While we might suffer from some reduced mobility for a while and be able to cope using a standard shower seat and grab rails, in my experience it is best to acknowledge the difficulty we are having from an early stage and to prepare for a gradual worsening of our condition. It is far easier to manage the situation from a position of relative strength than to wait until we become critical.
Most of us live in a home or apartment; often we rent, without a handicap accessible bathroom. Great. But when we suffer from some mobility restrictions the bathroom we have been accustomed to, hinders our ability to bathe freely. Most bathrooms are not designed for the disabled.
The options are to either do a bathroom remodel or to overcome the barriers that the current bathroom has by finding a shower bench system that suits us and the room layout. A bathroom remodel is obviously the best long term option but this will cost somewhere up to $10,000 and unfortunately cannot be undertaken quickly.
Most bathroom remodels will take between 7-10 days and be reasonably disruptive to the household during this time. This in itself may not necessarily be a problem, especially if you have the funds available and you have a second bathroom that you can use satisfactorily while the bathroom remodels work is undertaken. Failing this it can be problematic.
Now assuming you chose the bathroom to remodel you should end up with a nice handicap accessible bathroom and wheel-in shower. Just make sure you check all the design parameters with the designer to ensure the new floor gradient is designed to drain correctly to the shower drain and not out into the passageway carpet. Don’t laugh; this issue is more common than you might think.
Another design step is to ensure that if not the whole room, then as large an area of the handicap accessible bathroom as possible is graded to slope to the drain. A slope of 1″ to the drain is sufficient. This will allow you plenty of room in your shower chair without water running off ‘outside the drainage sloping area’. You should also ensure that a non-slip flooring surface is installed. While granite and tile may look good these surfaces can be very slippery when wet and are best avoided.
If you do manage to do a bathroom remodel into a handicap accessible bathroom design, or perhaps you purchased a home with this already in-built then you need to choose the best mobile shower chair for you. There is a wide selection of mobile shower chairs available on the market today. My best advice is to buy a quality product, one that will offer you years of service rather than one that is cheap today but may not be the safest or the best value for money over the longer term.
I recommend that you select a mobile shower chair that offers you as a minimum the following features:
- Value for money i.e. is built from durable, high strength materials such as aluminum and stainless steel. There are numerous shower chairs available constructed from steel with epoxy paint coatings. Anything constructed of steel and used in wet environments will break down and show signs of rusting over time. Rust is also a structural weakening problem on steel frames, so safety will be compromised.
- The shower chair must-have safety features like all 4 castors locking, to allow safe transfers from the bed to chair. Castors should be 5″ (125mm) not smaller as smaller castors do not run as well and can make maneuvering over thresholds etc difficult. Check that the shower chair runs smoothly without the castors wobbling.
- Caregivers and users should ‘like’ the shower chair. It must be easy to use for the carer and comfortable for the user, after all, they are going to spend some time in that shower chair each day.
- By ‘liking’ the shower chair I refer to the overall impression, the first impression of the shower chair by the carer and user. I personally find that too many shower chairs are hospital like in color and appearance. I would not want a black, grey, totally white, or chrome chair. Some color brightens the day and removes that clinical look while still performing the same functions. An example of using color can be seen in the Showerbuddy shower chairs that contain splashes of orange color with the orange parts also generally being adjustable.
- A commode system must be incorporated and the shower chair must be able to roll over the toilet.
- The shower chair should be fully adjustable in seat height to suit the user, the footrests should fold away and be removable and be height adjustable. Armrests should be lockable when in the down position to allow the user to balance and anchor against if they need to – plus be able to be folded out of the way or removed totally if required during side transfers.
- If you chose a tilting shower chair (and I thoroughly recommend this) the tilt option should be infinitely variable from a minimum of zero degrees to 30 degrees. The tilt option is best controlled by locking struts rather than mechanical adjustment pins etc. Also, make sure that any tilt option is smooth in operation and includes a safety stop, in the event of a failure the user will only go back to the safety stop, not topple right back.
- Any shower chair with a tilt function must have a fully adjustable neck rest to support the user’s neck and head.
If you are unable to remodel your bathroom because of the cost, or because of time constraints and disruption, then you will need to consider how you can get into the shower stall (and over that threshold step) or how you can continue to get yourself over the bathtub, if you currently shower over the tub.
There are several systems to transfer you in a mobile bath chair from bed to bathroom, to then slide over the tub to have a shower.
There is only one patented system available that is designed to transfer you into the shower stall. Again, my advice is to buy a quality, sturdy product because you are going to be applying all your weight and trust onto that bath chair and shower chair as it slides you over the tub or into the shower.
You can refer to the web site below for some research into the types of bath chairs and shower chairs available.
For transfer systems I also recommend that you select a chair that offers you as a minimum the following features:
- All of the above features of a mobile shower chair.
- With transfer systems, it is imperative that the structural design of the rolling chair base, the transfer tracks, and the tub base unit is of the highest specification. There are numerous systems available today that have been designed around cost, not the safety of the user. The user must be safe during the transfer and some systems look and feel less than secure, having vertical leg supports without transverse or horizontal bars to stabilize the units during transfers. I don’t see these units as offering safety or security or a long term economic viability.
- The system should also have a tilt function to lift the user’s legs as they transfer/slide over the tub.
- A safe and sturdy base unit that fits into the tub, with a side stabilizer system to suit any width tub, yet easy to remove and store allowing the tub to be used by able-bodied users.
- A full-height adjustable tub base unit.
- There are satisfactory non-tilting transfer systems available. The only issue being the carer has to lift the user’s legs over the tub as they slide over. Make sure that the user has a footrest in the tub after they have been transferred. Not all systems include this feature and it can be very uncomfortable for the user without foot support in the tub.