Occupational Therapy Advice and Information
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Additional support when using an over bath shower facility:
- It is important that you are able to reach and operate the shower hose safely and, if needing to sit, you may find that fixing a secondary shower head holder lower down on the wall may make this easier for you. They can usually be purchased so that they can be fixed through a suction pad but you will need to ensure that this is securely fixed and does not fall off when the area is wet.
- However it may be necessary, if you need to sit to shower, to change the riser bar on your existing shower facility. These are available in longer lengths than the standard shower control packs and would then enable you to lower the shower head so that you can reach it comfortably, whilst sitting, without over reaching and risking any over balancing and possible injury that would be further exacerbated by you being in a wet area.
- In some circumstances you may also want/need to lower the existing shower controls so that you can reach them easily but this would probably require the services of a local electrician and may also result in some re-tiling where the shower control has been removed.
- This would result in more major implications for you so, by perhaps fitting a grab rail/rails either side of the shower control, you may be able to resolve this problem more simply by pulling up on a rail to stand whilst turning the controls on and off before having to consider major works.
- Shower boards that fit across the rim of the bath would enable You to sit and lift your legs over the side of the bath to remain seated and access the over bath shower facility from a seated position. It is essential that you have good sitting balance to use this equipment and it may also be necessary to fit a grab wall on the wall adjacent to the bath, if there is one, to provide a hand-hold when lifting legs over the side of the bath as this can be an unsteady task. These boards are waterproof so that they will not deteriorate over time.
- They can either have a solid seat or slatted seat, which makes it easier for the water to run down into the bath, but they must not hang over the edge of the bath otherwise they can become unstable and lift up when You transfer on and off the it. It is important to measure the width of the bath, on the outside of the bath, from rim to rim to enable the correct length of board to be purchased. The bath rims must be at least 40 mm (1.5”) on both sides to accommodate a board so that it rests on the rim safely and can be secured.
- The boards are secured by brackets under the seat that are adjusted to fit to the sides of the bath. It is important that the board is fitted securely so that the board does not move when You transfer on and off it and it is also important to check the fixing regularly so that the board does not become loose and therefore slip when You sit on it.
- Swivel Bath Seats. Swivel bath seats may be suitable for use with an over bath shower. They are fixed to a frame that then fits across the top of the bath, resting on the rims on both sides, so it is essential that the bath rims are at least 40 mm (1.5”) wide on both sides of the bath to be able to safely accommodate this equipment. The seat swivels through 360 degrees from outside the bath, round and over the bath to aid transfers over the side of the bath. They have back support and armrests and most have a lever to lock the swivel mechanism in place when You are sat down on the seat, over the bath. They can be used with people with weight limits up to between 20 – 25 stone, depending upon the model chosen.
- You must have good upper limb strength to be able to ‘assist’ the seat to swivel otherwise a Carer will need to provide this physical assistance. You must also have the ability to be able to lift your legs over the side of the bath to use this equipment otherwise the Carer will once again have to physically lift legs up and over the side of the bath whilst the seat swivels. These seats would not lower You into the bath.
- Bath seats: They can provide a lower seating surface to use with the over bath shower facility, which will reduce any possible water spill over the side of the bath and also allow You to use the shower curtain/screen fixture. You must be able to lower yourself down onto the seat and be able to lift yourself back up again. Grab rails will probably need to be fitted to give you additional support when sitting and standing from the seat.
- Bath Steps: These can assist people who have difficulty stepping over the side of the bath to get in and out of it to use an over bath shower facility. They are available in differing heights to give a range of heights from 2” to an overall maximum raised step height of 7”. However if You require such a raised height this would indicate that there are other problems and alternative solutions may be better to consider. The steps are placed at the side of the bath and reduce the level between the floor and the rim of the bath.
- Flooring: Consider the type of flooring in your existing bathroom to see whether this is further hindering your safe transfer in and out of the bath and causing you to slip and risk serious injury. A non-slip/slip resistant flooring is recommended where any shower facility is provided and should be installed to Manufacturer’s instructions i.e. Altro Walkway for an over bath shower facility
Accessing existing shower facilities safely may simply require the provision of equipment and grab rails, easily purchased from local Dealers or Suppliers.
Equipment that might help provide some simple solutions: