How to pick the right shower chair model with the help of the Shower chair buyers guide
How to pick the right shower chair model with the help of the Shower chair buyers guide
Looking to buy a new shower chair? There are thousands of options when you include all the cheap options from homeware stores, remodelling and specialist mobility retailer options. So how do you pick the best solution for your client, loved one, or yourself? Showerbuddy provides some insights on exactly this below.
It is important to define the required level of support during bathing, to subsequently find the perfect solution in the bathroom.
Before making any commitment on a shower chair, a full assessment of mobility needs to be completed. The occupational therapist will conduct this assessment, and determine what elements of the bathroom routine will need support – and from what. It could be that a basic shower stool is ample for mild situations in which the individual has most of their strength and motor skills to keep steady but may want the option of sitting down at times.
For any individual with significant mobility impairment, the assessment will likely involve determining the equipment and carer support combination, along with the most logical and comfortable routine for the user.
The individual will if possible have input into the bathoom routine development, but the OT will be tasked with finding ways to carry out tasks. There are many different movements required in the bathroom, each with their own demands. Some of these include: brushing teeth, getting into the shower, washing with body wash, washing hair, drying off after a shower, using the toilet and cleaning up after the toilet.
An OT will determine the difficulty level of these for the individual and build a plan around carrying these out with as much independence by their client as possible. Equipment and carer support can then be provided according to needs. It's at this point where the requirements of the shower chair will be clear, and you can shop around for options with a list of criteria based on these needs. Many shower chairs, especially those in the low cost/quality category won't be appropriate for significant mobility challenges. OTs will often lead the research and source the best solution for their client and will make sure the chair can adeptly support the user in any situation it might be required.
The next consideration is more about the environment around the user. Each bathroom is set out differently, which is why it's important to consider the type of shower, space available and positioning of other fixtures like the vanity and toilet. Having this information will be important to choose a solution that's directly compatible with the shower in question. It's also important to consider the transfer process with that shower chair – if it's a transfer system like Showerbuddy, you'll want to know whether there's space for the bridge transfer or whether the optional shorter or longer bridge accessory will be required. The great thing about Showerbuddy is they're highly customisable to fit as many bathrooms as possible. Broadly, you'll want to choose a chair designed for a bathtub, a shower step-in unit – or an open, wet room style shower. Each of these types of showers require specific transfer approaches and ways to fix the chair when inside the shower.
If using the toilet requires support, you've got options. Traditionally, OTs and their clients have opted for toilet riser solutions that provide support and elevation to use the toilet comfortably. This would be separate equipment to a shower chair installed. If you go the Showerbuddy route, your bathroom transfer solution covers showering and toileting in the one unit. Not only is this more cost-effective and simpler than different pieces of equipment, it's much easier on the user and carer. Here's why: With a Showerbuddy chair, the individual can remain seated for the entire duration of their bathroom routine. They can be transferred into the shower, bathe, transfer out, be positioned over the toilet and wash up all without leaving the seat. This all but eliminates heavy lifting with awkward weight distribution between stations around the bathroom which greatly reduces accidents and injury.
The level of support whilst using a shower chair is a key consideration when determining the option to go for. Depending on the individual's ability to maintain posture, and their preferences for comfort, it may be that the shower chair needs to provide stability on the side of the body, foot rest support, arm rests, specific backrest height and neck rest support. Many shower chairs come with a fixed configuration and don't offer anything beyond a stable seat to sit on. For most individuals with significant mobility needs, this won't be satisfactory. Other options may have supports in place, but don't offer the ability to mix and match to suit the specific needs of the user. Showerbuddy's range offers a high degree of flexibility. The systems can be adjusted and modified using our accessories to suit your requirements. Even the standard models offer functions out of the box like feet and armrests and adjustable back rest to best cater to body support needs.
Adjustment is critical when finding a good shower chair option. How can you be sure that a fixed shower chair is the optimal fit for the user? In most cases it's not; the user has to simply cope with less than ideal dimensions as they shower. When you're looking for potential shower chair options, make sure there's adjustment possible to assume a comfortable seated bathing position. Height adjustment is one of the core adjustments as this helps to cater better for different sizes of user, but other adjustments like arm and feet rests are also really useful.
Of course the cost of different solutions will weigh into decision making if you're responsible for purchasing the solution yourself. In some parts of the world and particular circumstances, the cost of bathroom equipment is funded. Showerbuddy is one such system that can be funded through programmes like the NDIS. When you shop for a shower chair, you'll discover that beyond the cheap mass produced options, there are many tiers of shower chairs and transfer benches. These too are a mixed bag, with some reasonably expensive options offering little in the way of alleviating manual transfer. Consider the upfront cost against the longevity and function of the system. You may opt for a cheaper option but have to replace it later – and augment it with a toilet riser and other assistive technology to make the bathroom compatible. For full bathroom mobility solutions like Showerbuddy, you're not only getting all of these needs in one piece of equipment, but the build quality and lifetime frame warranty makes for a long-serving solution that won’t need replacing every few years.
What's involved in installing the shower chair you're looking at? Is it simply placing the chair inside the shower or tub? Anything too simple warrants a closer look into the stability of the solution. On the other end of the scale, anything that requires you to drill or cut into your bathroom to permanently modify it for the chair is going to get expensive or may not even be possible if the user is renting. Unless the home was constructed with these new supports in mind then there is a high likelihood that there is insufficient structural fixing behind the wall lining, leading to problems with holding the part if you are fixing to the walls, to water leaking behind the fixings, causing more permanent structural damage and rot. Installation should be straightforward and give the family confidence that when being used, won't shift around and create a hazard. If you choose an option like Showerbuddy's transfer range, assembly and installation is done within an hour, securely fastened to the tub or shower, ready to be used to bathe and toilet – all tool free and without modifying the bathroom itself. The whole Showerbuddy solution can be put away after use, leaving the bathroom as normal for other family to use.
You should expect a solution that's there for the long haul. Something that will take the rigours of daily bathroom use and keep providing safe, secure use for years to come. When you're searching for potential shower chairs, look for the manufacturer warranty (as well as whatever the retailer offers). If a chair doesn't provide much here, you should proceed with caution – it may be that it's not expected to last. When we're talking about bathroom safety a failing chair is the last thing anyone needs. Showerbuddy guarantees their frames for life – with other components like cushions and backrests designed for many years of use and easy swap out replacement to make Showerbuddy chairs long term solutions that you can depend on.