This information is for people with bathing difficulties and for those finding other activities of daily life more difficult. It has been written by qualified occupational therapists.
Self help – some practical solutions
This section gives you and/or your carer advice and information about ways in which you may be able to solve bathing problems (getting in and out of a bath).
Problems with bathing
The main problem areas associated with using the bath safely are:
- Stepping in and out of the bath
- Sitting down and getting up again
Many people keep themselves clean by regularly ‘strip washing’ and this may be the simplest, safest way to continue. It is often advisable to sit whilst washing yourself.
Safety must be your first concern. For some, bathing can be unsafe and for anyone with complex health matters the risks can be increased. If in doubt, do not attempt to use the bath.
What solutions are available?
Rather than stepping in and out, it may be easier and safer to use a bath-board. The board is secured over the top edges of the bath and allows you to get in or out sideways (as if you were getting onto a bed).
These are platforms placed beside the bath, designed to reduce the height of stepping in/out of the bath. Some steps have an integral hand rail which can provide extra support.
Grab rails can be fitted at the side of the bath to help give support when you are getting in and out of a bath.
A bath seat placed securely on the bottom of the bath may help you to get up and down more easily.
Problems with showering
The main problem areas associated with using a shower safely are:
- Transferring in and out of the cubicle or over the side of the bath.
- Standing tolerance.
- Falls risk
What are the solutions?
We advise that if you have difficulties with any of the above, you should initially have a strip wash. The purchase of a shower chair/perching stool may help you by providing you with a waterproof seat that can be placed close to a basin.
Equipment to assist with a low toilet
If you are having difficulty getting up or lowering to a toilet seat then the following equipment might be able to assist you.
What solutions are available?
Raised Toilet Seats
Raised toilet seats raise the height of a low toilet seat, making it less of a distance to get up from or sit down. Most raised toilet seats clamp onto the top of the existing toilet bowl and require the existing toilet seat to be permanently lifted or removed entirely.
These sit around the outside of your toilet bowl and provide arm rests, supported by legs, which allow you to push up more securely to get off the toilet.
Can I get help to bathe?
You can contact us to seek information, assistance or advice, or you can give someone else permission to contact us on your behalf. When you contact us, we will ask for some details and talk about how we may be able to help you.
Depending on your enquiry, this will include providing information or advice, about ways to help yourself or arranging for an assessment of your needs.
For support with bathing we may signpost you to independent suppliers of advice and equipment, enabling you to help yourself, or you may be offered an assessment at a community clinic. If your needs are more complex, we may offer an assessment in your home.
The Bathing Clinic
What happens at a community clinic?
For difficulties accessing bathing facilities you may be offered an appointment at a bathing clinic, this will last approximately 30 minutes. A social care assessor will assess your needs to see if you are eligible for help. If your needs are straight forward, we will advise you where to go to get advice and equipment from an independent supplier. You will not be required to undress. Specialist equipment may be provided following the assessment if we consider your assessed needs more complex.
You will be asked to bring photographs of your bathroom layout and measurements of the bath (depth, height and width) with you to your appointment.
Home assessment and adaptations
If more help is required, you will be referred for an Occupational Therapy Assessment, which may be carried out in your home. They will look at all the ways in which you need practical support. If equipment or minor adaptations will not meet your bathing needs, you may need to have adaptations made to your home.
If more major work is found to be necessary such as removing your bath and installing a level access shower, a financial assessment will be carried out to look at the funding options and whether you will need to contribute towards the adaptations. If the property is rented, permission from the landlord will be required to proceed with adaptations. You will be given details at the time of your home assessment.
Information and advice for non-bathing related needs
Carrying things from room to room
A trolley can help you carry items from room to room, where carrying is difficult. If you usually push down heavily on a walking frame you may not be able to use a trolley safely.
Some trolleys are height adjustable. Trolleys are not always easy to push on carpeted floors. An alternative is a basket or plastic walking frame “caddy” that can fit to a walking frame.
If you have difficulty reaching or bending below your waist, there are several items of equipment available that can extend your reach. The “easi-reach” or “pick up stick” can make it easier to pick up letters and other things from the floor or low down.
Long-handled shoe horns, stockings, tights and sock aids can also make dressing more manageable by giving you extra assistance if you have difficulty crouching down.
You may find that your favourite chair has become more difficult to get up from. It may also not be as comfortable as it was, or you feel it doesn’t give you enough support.
If you are intending to purchase a different chair these are some key things you should consider. Is the seat of the chair:
- high enough for me to get up/down easily?
- firm enough to be stable (not tip over) when I get up?
- comfortable to sit in?
- are the arm rests far enough forward and high enough to allow me to get up and down comfortably?
- is the back rest supportive, is it the right shape for my back and does it also need to support my neck/head?
It may be possible to adapt your existing chair by raising the height of the seat using special blocks or chair raisers that are designed to be easily fitted. You should get further advice from the suppliers due to chairs and sofas having different feet/castors, the appropriate raiser is required to ensure a safe and secure fit.
If your chair is too soft and you sink when attempting to get up, a wooden board placed under the cushion may give you a more stable base and a folded pillow or cushion can sometimes help support the small of your back.
Where can I get this equipment?
The equipment mentioned above can be obtained from various outlets in your local area, some examples are as follows:
Equipment can also be obtained from online outlets such as: