Personally, I find that a good long soak is normally a solution. If I’m stuck with a project, I’ll go for a bath to think about it. When experiencing aches or pains, a bath is the first port of call. Feeling anxious? A bath! Tired? A bath! So, a first shock of Community Care-work was to realise just how many people become exiled from bath-time and its brilliant physical and psychological benefits, often just when they would cherish a good long soak the most. A deterioration in strength, movement, and/or balance can so easily make the act of getting into or out of the bath a dangerous or impossible feat. A few people who had experienced this situation described to me that when they did brave getting in, they would then spend the whole bathing session worrying about how to get out. For people living with others, getting stuck in the bath is a horrible thought―and for those living alone, a terrible one (in 2019 a woman in her 70’s was thankfully rescued by police after having been unable to get out of her bath for eight days). Then, with the difficulty and struggle comes an increased risk of straining and pulling joints and muscles, and slipping and falling.
Strategically placed handrails can help a great deal, but for those who need more support – enter the bath-lift! There are a variety of different types available.
I like the quite rigid designs, like the Invacare Orca (which has lots of options including integrated swivel seat). The base doesn’t fit all bath-types and shapes, so it is worth checking yours is compatible before making a purchase. Also, it is worth noting that whilst they are portable and relatively light (11.2kg), some help may be needed to place the contraption into, or remove it from, the bath.
Also, there is the Mangar bathing cushion which is an inflatable and deflatable design. This is much lighter (2kg) to manoeuvre than the Orca though support may still be needed with fitting and removal due to awkward angles. Some people seem to find it more comfortable, and others feel it is a little less stable than the Orca design. Which is the better of the two is very much down to individual need and preference.
I have also come across the belt style bath lift, but have avoided specifying it due to fitting and stability concerns. (If you have any experience of using this well, please let me know in the comments below)
For those the ability to reach the bath-lift, get legs over the bath, operate the equipment etc… there are designs such as the Oxford Mermaid floor fixed bath-side hoist, and there are also portable and ceiling hoist solutions. All of these are usually specified by Occupational Therapists, who are best placed to advise for every level of need―from hand-rail placement to this specialist area.
I would love to hear whether you have tried any of the solutions above, and if so how you got on with them (or whether you have any further suggestions) in the comments section below.
As with all products featured, please refer to the supplier and manufacturer guidelines and advice – and speak with a specialist where relevant – before making a purchase.
No company is paying me to mention them – all my own views through research and experience as described.