How to Choose the Right Shower Chair
Posted on: 20 February 2015 by Kate Leslie
Find the right shower chair for your needs
Shower chairs, benches and stools can make all the difference to bathroom safety. As well as lessening the risk of injury from slips and falls, they help their users save energy by allowing them to sit down while showering. Paired with a handheld shower they make bathing much easier and can help preserve independence for anyone who struggles with mobility.
They might be bought as a short-term measure, during injury recovery, or as a more permanent way of tackling safety concerns, and there is a huge variety of models available to choose from. This post breaks down the main types, the measurements you need to consider and the extra features that you may want your shower seat to incorporate.
The Main Types
Shower Stools: A simple shower or bath stool offers freestanding support in a choice of shapes. Some are specifically designed to fit into the corner of a shower or bath tub, making as much use of the space as possible. Straight seats are suitable for those who are comfortable sitting upright, but some users find concave seats more comfortable thanks to their gently curved shape.
Wall Mounted Seats: Taking up minimal space in the bathroom, but requiring some installation, a wall mounted seat is fixed in place for long-term use. Some fold up against the wall while others have legs at the front for extra stability.
Chairs with Backrests: For anyone who requires a little extra support for their upper body, it’s worth considering a shower chair with an attached backrest. These are usually height adjustable as well as the seats, to make sure they’re contributing to comfortable posture while bathing, and some also come with built-in or attachable arm rests.
Mobile Chairs: Designed for use with a carer, a mobile chair can be pushed from behind and used to access the bathroom and shower. Often doubling up as a commode chair, these usually come with arm, back and foot rests for added comfort.
A shower chair is most stable when all four legs rest on the flat bottom of the bath tub or shower, rather than the curve at the sides. So measure flat space rather than total size, and make sure that your shower stool will still comfortably fit.
Most shower safety seats will be adjustable in height, but it’s worth measuring a comfortable chair to be sure that your choice will be able to match it.
Weight is important, too. Most shower chairs are made from plastic, metal or a combination of the two. Aluminium or steel frames are sturdier and ideal for heavy duty use, while plastic is lighter to lift in and out of the tub, but both are easy to clean and (link to cleaning guide) and chosen for their durability.
Once you’ve decided on the type of shower seat that best suits your needs, there are several extra features to consider. Every shower chair is slightly different, but these are some of the most common (and helpful) features to look out for:
Rotating seats. Perfect for those who find balance and mobility difficult, a rotating seat is most commonly found on round shower stools and means that there’s less need for the user to move and turn while they’re in the shower.
Folding seats. A shower chair that folds away when not in use will help save space in smaller bathrooms, and are much more practical for traveling.
Extra handles. Think carefully about how you will get in and out of the shower with your new chair, and consider whether extra handles at the side will make that easier. But if your chosen model doesn’t come with handles where you need them, you can easily install grab rails to your bathroom for extra support.
Drainage holes. Small holes in the seat will help water escape more quickly and prevent the surface from becoming slippery. This isn’t a problem for most users, as water tends to run off the plastic seats quickly even without drainage holes, but it can serve as an extra measure for those less confident in their sense of balance.
Padded or textured seats. A padded seat or backrest adds comfort, while textured surfaces are generally less slippery.
Colour. This seems like a simple one, but for visually impaired users a blue or green chair is much easier to see against a white shower or bath tub.
Suction cups. Most shower chairs or stools will have rubber ferrules on their feet to avoid slips, but these can easily be replaced with suction cups if you prefer.
Transfer Benches and Bath Lifts
If getting in and out of the bath tub itself is a problem, you may want to look at a transfer bench or bath lift instead. A transfer bench stretches over the side of a tub, allowing those with limited movement to slide along it into the bath rather than having to step over the side. Bath lifts, meanwhile, lower the user into the tub using a simple, battery-powered control system. But if you can move in and out of the shower or tub comfortably than a chair is probably the bathroom aid best suited to you. If you consider your needs and what will work well in your bathroom, they can make a real difference to your independence and safety while bathing, and help make it as relaxing and comfortable as possible.