Best Shower Chairs for Disabled People

Best Shower Chairs for Disabled People

What is a Shower Chair?

Shower chairs are basically waterproof wheelchairs that assist disabled users and their carers with showering and toileting routines.

They’re also particularly versatile pieces of equipment because shower chairs can be doubled up as commodes. Many models have an aperture which allows for a removable commode pan to be fitted.

Made from waterproof materials, they are resistant to corrosion and are generally built from a metal frame with a mesh fabric or soft seat.

shower chair in situ
Attendant propelled shower chair

 

Shower Chairs vs Shower Stools

When looking for disability-friendly shower solutions, the first thing you must decide is whether you are looking for a shower chair or a shower stool. These can sound similar, but the main difference is in terms of the mobility offered.

A shower stool is a stationary seat that a reduced mobility or low strength user can sit on if they need a rest when in the shower.

A shower chair usually has wheels and enables increased mobility around the bathroom environment. Available in self-propelled and attendant-propelled models, shower chairs will usually have a larger gap beneath the seat to allow you to be positioned over the toilet. There will also be a horseshoe shaped aperture in the seat itself.

height adjustable shower stool
Height adjustable shower stool

 

Main Features and Benefits of Shower Chairs

Shower chairs are incredibly beneficial for users who are disabled, elderly or struggle with low mobility.

For users with low mobility or reduced strength, who may not be steady on their feet, a slippery bathroom floor can be a nightmare.

In this case, a shower chair provides a stable place to sit on and provide support if you’re washing or using the toilet.

Shower chairs give you the chance to take care of yourself and maintain good hygiene, and using the toilet and shower with ease.

If independence is a concern, then you might choose a self-propelled shower chair if you are strong enough to push yourself around. Self-propelled shower chairs give you independence and the ability to move around your bathroom with no hassle.

Shower chairs range in size and features depending on what you need. You can get a standard, basic shower chair that will allow you to move around the bathroom with no problems.

But if a user’s needs are more complex, then there are other shower chairs that have more specialist features to accommodate this.

Adaptability & Adjustability 

The shower chair that you decide to buy should meet all adjustability needs. If you expect the user’s needs to change and grow, then you may want a shower chair that is adjustable in height and features several configurations.

Footrest

Pay attention to the footrest, it may be that you have to choose between a single large footrest, or have two separate footrests for the user’s feet. You should also pay close attention to the number of configurations that the footrest can be placed in. This will allow you to achieve a range of comfortable positions when the shower chair is in use.

Material

Of course, the ideal material here is a waterproof and easy to clean one. So, a hard and easy to wipe clean surface may sound like the only way to go. This may be the case, but if the comfort of the user is important to you, then a material that is comfortable and skin friendly is the way to go. The Osprey shower chair is fitted with a mesh fabric throughout to allow for water to pass through while providing the user with a softer surface to rest on.

Central Aperture

This is an area in the centre of the seat that allows the shower chair to double as a commode.

Accessories

Shower chairs that are highly adjustable and configurable can sometimes come with a range of accessories that are better suited to certain configurations, from seat covers to accompanying commode pans to work alongside the central aperture.

More Features and Benefits

Shower Chair Feature Benefit
Tension adjustable backrest Tighten/slacken the backrest fabric to reposition the patient and provide maximum comfort.
Flip-up arms Easier access when washing.
Lap belt Keeps hips in position and prevents patient sliding out of chair.
Lateral supports Extra support for people with poor posture.
Footrests and straps Footrests takes the weight off patient’s legs and straps prevent their feet from sliding off the footplate.
Waterproof materials Protects the chair from rust and corrosion.
Head support (fixed or removable) Keeps head stable for people with poor head control or weak neck muscles. Removable head support makes it easier to wash the person’s hair.

 

How to Choose a Shower Chair

Just like different models of a car, the type of shower chair you need will depend on the condition of the user and how much assistance they require.

To help with this, we have listed the models in our range and where they sit on the spectrum of low to high need.

Product Overview: Low to High Need

shower chairs low to high need

Ocean Range

If a standard shower chair with wheels and a central aperture sounds like what is right for your situation, then the Ocean shower chair & commode range is a good option.

This is a range of shower chairs that all come with wheels for increased mobility, ranging from a base, height-adjustable model, to bariatric, gas-powered self-propelled and heavy-duty bariatric versions.

Aquatec Ocean
Ocean shower chair

Osprey Shower and Commode Chair Range

If you’re looking for a shower chair that will suit a wider range of complex needs, then the Osprey shower chair and commode range will meet this criteria.

Just like the Ocean shower chair, the Osprey shower chair is available in a range of sizes and allows you to find the perfect fit for your specific requirements.

The Osprey Tilt in Space shower chair is a more specialist shower chair with wheels and a gas-powered tilt in space movement. This shower chair is designed with for users with more complex disabilities. The Osprey range also has various models that cater to users of all sizes.

From infant & child shower chairs to extra tall and heavy-duty shower seats with wheels, the Osprey shower chairs boast a range of configurations including height-adjustability that allow for a personalised fit when in use. The bariatric version will support people up to 42.5 stone in weight.

From paediatric to bariatric care, you can find an accessible shower seat to fit your exact needs with the Osprey shower chair range.

Shower Chairs for People with Poor Posture

Shower chairs for people with poor posture should definitely include a tilt-in-space positioning option. With the person being tilted back (with the hip and knee angles maintained) it will encourage their spine into a healthy midline position, and stop them from slouching or slipping forward in the chair.

A good range of shower chairs that offer tilt-in-space abilities is the Ocean Range.

Ocean tilt-in-space shower chair
Ocean tilt-in-space shower chair

Something else you may want to include on top of tilt-in-space is a tension adjustable backrest. This means you can tighten or slacked off the material of the backrest according to the person’s comfort and support needed.

If you loosen the backrest a little, it allows the person to sink back into the chair meaning that they’re not completely upright (which can cause discomfort and poor posture), which encourages better positioning. You might also want to consider having an adjustable back angle that opens up the hips for additional comfort.

For a higher spec shower chair that offers more support to the user, the Raz Rehab range is excellent.

Raz shower chair
Raz shower chair

Seat aperture

The aperture of a shower chair can also aid with postural management. Some apertures are contoured around the edge to help promote a healthier sitting position.

The aperture will cradle the person’s posterior to help guide them into a better-seated position. Getting the right curve will guide your client’s ischial tuberosity into a stable, sturdy position that set a good base for better spinal positioning.

Head supports

We often recommend that you choose a shower chair that has built-in head support for people with poor head control or limited neck strength. This will help to keep the person stabilised and comfortable when using the bathroom.

A removable headrest is a good idea because it makes it a lot easier to wash the person’s hair. This means that you can simply take the headrest off and use the tilt-in-space function to position the person’s head over the sink.

On the topic of personal hygiene, you may also want to look at shower chairs that have flip-up arms to allow easier access when washing.

Shower chairs with lap belts

We strongly recommend that you use a shower chair with lap belts to keep the person securely positioned during showers. Having a lap belt will help to keep the person’s hips in position and will help prevent them from sliding out of the chair.

A four-point belt will really help to give the person a good pelvic position when sat in the chair. Although belts and harnesses are sometimes frowned upon, we do recommend that you use one in a shower chair simply to keep the person in the chair when it’s wet.

Extra postural support in shower chairs

In terms of extra support in shower chairs for people with poor posture, you may want to include thoracic lateral supports if needs be. This will help encourage a healthy midline position and will alleviate some discomfort for individuals with postural conditions like scoliosis.

Footplates should also be used to stabilise the person’s leg so they’re not just dangling from the chair. This will be a lot more comfortable for the individual and it will encourage a healthy pelvic position in the chair itself.

Foot straps might also be necessary if you have a client who has involuntary leg movements.

 

Conclusion

If you need more secure shower seating and are looking at getting a mobility shower aid, asking yourself these five questions should give you a good picture of the type of shower chair you need.

  1. Do I want a shower chair or a shower stool?
  2. Do I want a shower chair with wheels?
  3. Will I be using the shower chair as a commode?
  4. Will I need a range of adjustability options?
  5. Will I use this shower chair with a caregiver or on my own?

 

Our experienced advisors are on hand to help you find the right showering solution, so why not get in touch?

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