This section is concerned with assisted bathing products, designed particularly to meet the needs of the most dependent patients.
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There is now a wide range of bath tubs available which have been designed for assisted bathing in a care setting, with features that make them safer and more comfortable for both carer and patient.
The Parker bath on the right has a shape which provides maximum support and lessens the risk of the bather slipping down the tub. The door on the side provides entry for the independently mobile, and the bath can also be used with a hoist for access.
High low baths enable the carer to raise the bath to a suitable working height, once it has been filled with water and the patient settled in it. In some models, the base of the bath lifts up, forming a platform at the right height for a transfer, then the walls of the bath can be raised around it to contain the water at a good working height.
An adjustable length footrest will ensure that people of different heights can use the bath comfortably without slipping down. Many high low baths have access underneath for a mobile hoist, and some have their own integral hoist or chair, to make transfers easier.
This “slide in” bath (right) with its wide opening door, is a variation on the walk-in type, and has an integral seat at the right height to transfer from a wheelchair. It also has an anti-bacterial agent incorporated in the gel coat; a useful benefit in multi-user environments.
Hydrotherapy options are widely available, to maximise the therapeutic benefits of bathing.
Thermostatic and computer-controlled filling systems can prevent scalding, and some baths also feature automated cleaning and disinfection systems, to guard against cross-infection.
For walk-in baths, please visit the Independent Living bathing section.
Bath lifts and seats
For users who don’t require assistance once they are in the bath, a fixed height tub with a bathlift or seat may be a practical solution.
The seat may be an integral part of the bath, as with the system shown on the right, where the seat is also water powered, or it may be a separate unit which is either installed or simply rests in the bottom of the bath.
Installed systems include supportive floor-mounted chair lifts, which allow the user to remain seated as they are swivelled into the bath and then lowered into the water. For people who have difficulty raising their legs, some floor-mounted lifts will raise the user sufficiently high to clear the edge of the bath with minimal leg movement, and there are also models with an integral leglifter. The belt-style lifts which are fixed to the wall next to the bath, don’t have any back support and are only suitable for people with good balance.
Bathlifts that sit in the bath are convenient in that they can be completely removed when not required. Some are more supportive than others (the inflatable type does not give such good support).
In choosing this type of lift, consider how low in the water they will go and how much support they provide. Also, find out how much the component pieces weigh: portability can be relative!
There are manual types, which are activated hydraulically using the body weight of the user, and electrically powered ones. The manual lifts may not be convenient for multiple users, as they may need adjusting to function correctly with users of differing body mass. Powered lifts can be either mains-powered with a step-down transformer, or more usually have a rechargeable battery. Safety features should ensure that the lift will not lower somebody into the water unless there is sufficient power to lift them back up again.
For guidance on regulatory obligations for care home owners and managers who use baths with powered seats, click here
Bathing hoists and transfer aids
There are many multi-purpose mobile hoists and ceiling track hoists, which you can read about in our general hoisting section.
You can also obtain hoists and lifters designed particularly for use in the bathroom, such as the one shown on the right, which is fixed to the floor and has a rotating seat on which the client can be lowered into the tub. The seat can be raised and lowered manually or with electric power. Seat options include a commode for toileting.
For bathing immobile patients safely and easily, a high/low shower trolley minimises the number of transfers required and can be adjusted to provide a good working height for the carer. The safety sides drop down to facilitate the transfer of the patient from their bed.
This trolley also has a foot-operated mechanism to turn the patient on their side, so that one carer can complete the washing routine unaided.
There are hydraulic and electrically operated versions available.
This type of trolley is convenient for wound care, as well as bathing.