Equipment for showering

Introduction

Showering may be chosen because it is a personal preference or because getting in and out of the bath has become too difficult or hazardous. If help is needed for bathing, showering may offer the possibility of washing independently once again.

Taking a shower can also reduce the risk of injuring a carer's back as it will eliminate the need to lift or help the bather to get in and out of a low bath.

It may be necessary to build a new bathroom, either because of space restrictions or because it is of difficult to access an upstairs bathroom. However, if this is the case, check that all other options have been considered. For example, it may be more practical and cheaper to install a stairlift or through-floor lift to provide easy access to the first floor.

This Information Sheet provides information on the type of equipment available to help with showering.

Where to get help and advice

Before making any decisions about buying equipment, or making alterations to your home, it is strongly recommended to contact an occupational therapist (OT). An OT is qualified to assess your daily living needs. The OT will advise on possible solutions and will arrange for the provision of suitable equipment to those who are eligible eg medical card holders. The OT can also advise on home modifications, where appropriate, and on grants that may be available to help with the cost.

You can contact the OT for your area through the Community Care section of your Health Services Executive area. Contact details for your local services are in your local area phone book.

Provision of showering equipment

Showering equipment is generally regarded as daily living equipment, and may therefore be provided by the local authority through the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for People with a Disability or the Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme.

Equipment may include:

  • shower trays
  • shower units
  • showers with suitable controls
  • shower seats
  • mobile shower chairs

Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability

From 1st November 2007, the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability may be applied for to assist in the carrying out of works that are reasonably necessary for the purposes of making a house more suitable for the accommodation of a person with a disability (who is a member of the household). This scheme replaces what was previously known as the Disabled Person's Housing Grant.

The types of works allowable under the new scheme can be varied and include the provision of access ramps, stairlifts, downstairs toilet facilities, accessible showers, adaptations to facilitate wheelchair access and extensions. In general, people who require grant aid for minor works eg ramps, grab rails, accessible showers and stairlifts, and who satisfy the means test provisions, should apply for assistance under the new Mobility Aids Grant Scheme (see below), also administered by your local authority.

All applications for grant aid under the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme are assessed on the basis of household means. Since November 2007, the maximum grant available under this scheme is €30,000.

How to apply
The Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for People with a Disability is administered by your local authority. All applications must include two written itemised quotations from contractors indicating the cost of the adapation. The local authority will decide whether it is necessary to refer the application to an Occupational Therapist. This decision is based on the report of the authority's Inspector, the applicant's General Practitioner, and the long term needs of the applicant. For full details of the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for People with a Disability, contact the Housing Department of your local authority.

Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme

From 1st November 2007, the Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme is available. The scheme is designed to fast track grant aid to cover basic adaptations to address mobility problems primarily associated with ageing. The work allowed under the scheme can be varied and can include grab rails, access ramps, level access showers, and stairlifts. All applications for grant aid under the Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme are assessed on the basis of household means. The maximum grant is €6,000. This may cover 100% of the cost of the works and is available to those with gross annual household incomes of up to €30,000.

In cases where grant aid is required for larger work and where the cost of the work is expected to be in excess of €6,000, applicants should apply for grant aid under the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability (see above).

How to apply
The Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme is administered by your local authority. All applications must include one itemised quotation from a contractor indicating the cost of the adaptation. The local authority will decide whether it is necessary to refer the application to an Occupational Therapist. This decision is based on the report of the authority's Inspector, the applicant's General Practitioner, and the long term needs of the applicant. For full details of the Mobility Aids Housing Grant Scheme, contact the Housing Department of your local authority.

Private Purchase of Equipment

Private purchase may be necessary if the user is not eligible to obtain the necessary equipment from the local area health services. Some people may also choose to buy privately because they want the wider choice of equipment available on the private market.

Private Purchase – Applying for a VAT Refund

VAT paid on certain equipment which is privately purchased for use by a person with a disability can be reclaimed from Revenue. The relief applies to VAT on the purchase of goods which are aids and appliances designed to assist a disabled person to overcome a disability in the performance of their daily functions. Most aids to daily living and communication aids are included. Goods designed for leisure purposes are not. An invoice clearly stating the VAT content of the total amount paid must be included with the application. Contact Revenue's Central Repayments Office to request Form VAT 61a (see Useful Addresses), or you can apply online for a VAT refund using eRepayments in Revenue's myAccount service.

Private Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists in private practice can carry out assessments in the home or workplace, and if modifications are being considered, provide a report detailing the recommendations. It is important to ensure the therapist is experienced in relation to your particular needs. Make sure to discuss fees before engaging anyone’s services, and also check what the assessment fee includes (or does not include). The profession’s representative body, the Association of Occupational Therapists in Ireland (AOTI), keeps a list of contact details of member occupational therapists working in private practice in Ireland. This list is available from the AOTI (see Useful Addresses).

Private Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists can assess for movement, strength and balance training equipment, walking aids and exercise devices and recommend accordingly. If you wish to consult a physiotherapist you can go directly to your local chartered physiotherapist or ask your GP to refer you. It is important to ensure the therapist you consult is experienced in relation to your particular needs. Chartered physiotherapists work in hospitals and in the community where treatment is covered under the public health service. They also work in private practice and can be contacted through the profession’s representative body, the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (see Useful Addresses).

If you decide to buy equipment privately it is strongly recommended to seek the advice of an appropriate therapist on the suitability of that equipment to your condition or situation. It is also recommended that you try out the equipment, if possible, before purchase.

Different types of shower installations

Showers are either over-bath showers used within a bath tub, or contained separately within a shower cubicle, or an open shower/wet room. There may be pro's and con's about the different options, and your individual circumstances may determine which will be the best option for you. The choice of base will depend largely upon:

  • the facilities and the amount of space available,
  • the ability of the person.
  • your weight and size
  • the cost involved for any installation

'Over a bath' showers

An over-bath shower eliminates the need for you to lower yourself down to the bottom of the bath to have a traditional bath as you can wash whilst standing, or sit on a board at a height similar to the height of the bath. You will however still need to transfer over the edge of the bath to get inside the bath tub. Perforated bath boards can quite easily be fitted across the top of the bath to ease this transport and let you sit down whilst showering, or if more postural support is needed whilst sitting, a swivel seat can be used.

Both bath boards and swivel seats can be removed if other users need to use the bath, but in such cases it does take up some space in storage. Leg lifters can also be used to help you get your legs over the edge of the bath. Wall-fitted rails should be used for support when transferring or for when standing when using an over-bath shower. In order to contain the water within the bath area, a shower curtain will be needed. Check that it will drape adequately around the board or seat. A fixed screen may be in the way when you transfer into the bath, whereas a curtain can be drawn out of your way. Having an over-bath shower maintains flexibility so other users can have a bath as they may prefer to soak in a bath rather than shower.

Shower cubicles

Access into a shower cubicle is usually easier compared to getting into a bath tub unless the step into the shower is too high. It may be advisable to have grab rails fitted to hold onto for support, either for the transfer in and out or whilst standing. Shower stools or wall-mounted shower seats can sometimes be used if you need to sit down during showering but check before trying this as some shower bases can crack from the pressure of these seats/stools. There are essentially three kinds of shower cubicles:

  • Corner cubicles - situated in a corner with the tiled bathroom walls forming two of the sides.
  • Full cubicles - can be situated anywhere as they have three solid sides and a cubicle door, thus enclosing the person fully. It is advisable to have some waterproof flooring immediately outside the area of the cubicle.
  • Half-panel cubicles - these have one or more waist height sides which enable a helper to lean into the cubicle to assist, without getting too wet. Can have curtains to cover the top space.

Although many cubicles are installed with sealed shower doors to minimise water spillage into the surrounding area, a pump will often be added to actively draw the water towards the drain.

Cubicles can be bought with a choice of shower seat, shower controls and hand spray, and rails, according to the person's needs. Care should be taken over the choice of other equipment used on plastic shower trays, especially stools with four separate legs, because of the risk of puncturing the tray. Always make sure to check the maximum weight limit of the tray. Some companies will strengthen them for heavy users.

Often entering a shower cubicle will require you to take a step upwards into the shower cubicle. Depending on your strength and balance it can be advisable to have a wall-fitted rail in place to steady yourself when entering or using the shower. To eliminate the need to take a step upwards to enter the shower cubicle a level access shower may be chosen. Level access shower cubicles have the entry point close to being flush with the floor and are usually rectangular in shape. The size of the shower cubicle needs to be considered carefully before installation as the cubicle is an enclosed shower area and it will be difficult for a carer to help you whilst showering in it as this could mean having to leave the shower doors open, allowing for the water to splash out.

Shower cubicles may have double doors or folding doors that allow for more space when entering or exiting. Low doors or half-height doors are available usually only 75cm-90cm in height to allow for a carer to reach over them from outside the cubicle if needed (a shower curtain is still necessary to prevent water splashing out onto the floor.)

Shower toilets

These are shower cubicles which have a toilet included within the unit. The person either sits on the toilet to shower or, as it has a ramped or level access, uses a sanichair for the two functions. Some units also include a wash basin.

These are ideal for people who cannot access the bathroom as the toilet can function using a macerating unit so that the cubicle can be sited virtually anywhere in the house.

Shower trays

Stepped access trays

These are the most common type of shower tray available from most standard plumbers merchants and DIY chains. However, they may not be suitable for many users due to the need to take a large step when entering/exiting. They have a small retaining 'barrier' at the lower front edge to stop the water from flowing out onto the floor. The person must have sufficient balance and mobility to step over this. Although it is possible to transfer from a wheelchair onto an extended or swivel seat, a ramped or level access tray is usually much easier and safer.

A bath/shower step can also be used to split the height of the step into the cubicle into two steps.

Ramped access trays

These trays are placed on top of the existing flooring and can be installed almost anywhere - even if it is not near to the main drains. The trays are raised at the front so that the water drains towards the back and is usually pumped above floor level down a narrow pipe to the main drains.

A small ramp provides easy access for the person to walk in, or they may be pushed in by a helper in a sanichair or a mobile shower chair or trolley.

Shower cubicle featuring a ramped access tray

However, consider the following:

  • Not all provide sufficient floor area to allow the use of a mobile chair, so always check the measurements carefully.
  • If a mobile chair is used, check that there is enough space around the shower to allow sufficient 'run up' and that the ramp is not too steep.
  • Some small trays require that the mobile chair has to be reversed in so that it can be conveniently positioned under the shower head.

Level access trays

Level access showers have an entrance threshold of less than 15mm. They are therefore easy to negotiate independently, and put less stress on a helper's back when they are pushing the person into the cubicle. However, there is more risk of water falling outside the tray with level access shower trays. Try to ensure that the tray is sufficiently large to take account of the fact that the shower curtains will billow outwards slightly as the shower water hits them.

Some level access bases are designed to fit in the space where a bath stood, so that the drainage from the bath is already in place. Others require under floor drainage to be installed. They often have a pump over the drainage hole to draw the waste water towards it.

Shower area/wet rooms

In a shower area/wet room part or all of the bathroom is converted for showering either by laying a shower tray or sloping the floor and covering it with a suitable slip-resistant, waterproof flooring. It is also necessary to waterproof the adjacent walls, usually by tiling. Shower areas/wet rooms offer a lot more space for showering, but depending on the layout, there may be less scope for supportive features such as rails as the walls are further apart.

Since there are no steps or ramps to negotiate, it is easy for a person to walk or wheel in with little or no assistance and to shower on a chair or stool. It also puts less stress on a carer's back when assisting the person into the area.

If the person needs assistance to shower, the carer will get rather wet if there is no protection against the water. Waist height, wall-fixed or portable shower screens may be useful in this situation.

Waste pumps

Waste pumps can allow for a shower to be installed in parts of a home where gravity cannot be used to drain the shower, or where the floor is unbreachable or does not have enough space below it. The pumps actively pull water towards the drain outlet.

They are available with a range of maximum flow rates (how much water they pump from the shower in a set time period). Analogue drainage pumps will provide a constant rate of pumping and a fixed drainage speed, digital models vary the pumping rate depending on the volume of water flow from the shower.

Some pumps are activated by a flow switch installed in the water supply to the shower. When the shower is turned on water passes through the flow switch, activating the pump. Alternatively, the pump may be controlled directly by a connection to an electric shower, without the need for a flow switch.

Shower units - temperature control

Healthy adult skin requires only 30 seconds of exposure to water at 55 degrees centigrade before third-degree burning occurs. At 70 degrees centigrade, burning occurs in less than a second. The skin of children and older people is even more sensitive to extreme temperatures. A maximum hot water temperature of 40 degrees is recommended for showers.

Wherever possible there should be a guard against sudden water temperature changes, especially if scalding could occur. Therefore, the following are not recommended:

  • A shower spray simply fitted over the taps of a bath, unless the hot water available is at a constant temperature.
  • A variable heating source, for example from an ascot type water heater.

It is recommended that you choose a system with thermostatic controls so that the water temperature remains constant even if other water outlets in the same circuit are turned on. It is also advisable to have a safety cut-off at specific temperatures. The following types of shower are commonly available through DIY outlets as well as plumbers' merchants, although specialist shower companies sell a good range with easy-to-use controls.

Thermostatic mixer showers

This type of shower uses pre-heated water from the tank, but has thermostatic controls which automatically compensate for any changes in water pressure. This ensures that, if someone turns on the cold water tap elsewhere in the house, the person in the shower will not get scalded.

However, if a thermostatic mixer valve is fitted to a shower, it must be at least 3m below the water head if it is to work efficiently. Alternatively, a pump can be used to increase the water pressure.

Some models will shut off completely if either supply fails.

Instant or electric showers

Electric showers only have a cold water feed. They require a minimum water pressure in order to function properly, so almost always need a mains supply. You can use a tank supply as long as the tank is located over 8000-10,000mm above the electric shower unit.

They have an element (like an electric kettle) connected to the electricity supply which heats the water as it flows through the unit. The water temperature from an electric shower may fluctuate if the water flow to the shower is reduced, perhaps when someone else runs a tap. Temperature stabilised electric showers help to reduce the likelihood of these fluctuations, but if you require a guaranteed constant temperature you should consider a thermostatic electric shower.

Electric showers require particular wiring and fuse installations for safety and will require a trained electrician.

Shower unit - user controls

Depending on your needs or preferences, it may be worth considering the models available which have pre-set controls or one control which regulates the rate of flow and temperature. The following types are available:

  • lever controls
  • dial control
  • push button control
  • digital controls

Digital shower controls allow you to programme your desired temperature etc. They incorporate thermostatic controls to prevent temperature variations. It is usual to have a second remote control unit so that the shower can be controlled from a distance. This can be useful for a carer.

Other features to look for include a shower head that can be easily adjusted on its riser rail, with a friction clamp bracket that can be operated with one hand. An extra long extended riser rail with an extra long hose will allow for seated or standing showering. If you are going to use a shower stool or chair, consider having the controls sited so they are easy to reach from a stable sitting position.

Getting in or out of a bath or shower

If you are beginning to struggle or feel unsafe when you get in/out of a bath or shower, it is time to consider installing some equipment to help you.

Shower boards, stools and chairs are made from non-corrodible materials so that it does not matter if they get wet. When considering shower seating, consider the seat height . If you can sit comfortably with your feet supported, you are less likely to slide forwards in the chair. Wall-fixed shower chairs can be fixed at the appropriate height, free-standing chairs and stools may have height adjustable legs. Many mobile chairs have adjustable height footrests to provide support.

If you require back support, a padded backrest will provide more support and be more comfortable than plastic moulded or tubular backrests.

Armrests provide support while you are seated, but should not be used to help you stay in the chair. If, without the arm supports, you would slide or fall, then you require a more supportive system. You are advised to seek advice from an occupational therapist.

Grab rails

Straight grab rail

Part M of the Building Regulations (see Useful publications) gives useful recommendations for the installation of grab rails. However, they should be used only as a generic guide when the users are not known. When an individual user is known/for someone in their own home, personal factors such as the height of the person should be given priority:

For more detailed information about choosing and installing grab rails, please see our information sheet on Grab rails.

Horizontal rails

Drop down or fixed rails attached either side of the shower seat can help to prevent somebody sliding off a wet slippery seat. A rail can be fixed on to the wall at the side of the shower seat, approximately 200mm above the height of any seat. This may be used for help when standing and may assist wheelchair users to transfer across onto the seat from a wheelchair. A drop down rail can be fixed on the rear wall, to drop down on the opposite side of the shower seat, with its top rail level with the wall-fixed rail.

In shower cubicles it may be useful to have an additional horizontal rail fixed on the wall opposite the shower seat at a height of 1m from the ground if it can be easily reached from the seat.

Vertical rails

A vertical rail at least 500mm long can be fixed at the entrance to the shower compartment for use when stepping in and out of the cubicle. The rail should be mounted at a height that the user can comfortably reach whilst stood both from outside the cubicle and from in the cubicle.

Vertical rails can be installed on a wall, if present, opposite a shower seat. The lowest fixing should be fixed 800mm above floor level. However, the distance between the front of the seat and the rail must be less than 550mm if it is to be used successfully. If it is too far away, there is a risk of falling forward.

Before installing a rail, you must ensure that the wall you fix it to is strong enough to support the rail and the weight placed on it.

Shower boards

Shower boards fit across the width on top of the bath tub and secure with adjustable stoppers against the side of the bath. To transfer into the bath you reverse towards the shower board and sit down on it before swinging your legs over the edge to place them on the floor of the bath. It is strongly advised to have wall-fixed grab rails fitted to support yourself while completing the transfer. Whilst showering you would usually remain seated on the shower board but some people prefer to stand up and hold onto grab rails for support. Shower/bath boards are usually made from plastic, but can in some circumstances be made from coated metal or wood. They often consist of 6-7 slats with gaps for the water to run through, but some have a perforated top surface. Some incorporate grab handles or indentations for you to hold on to. Shower boards may sometimes be called bath boards but shower boards usually have greater width/depth than bath boards providing a greater area of support. Bath boards are narrower, to provide more room if you wish to transfer down onto a bath seat.

Shower boards and seats cannot be combined with a shower screen, but a shower curtain can be draped over the board/seat in order to contain the water. A bath board or swivel seat can only be used where there is adequate space to support the board/seat on both sides of the bath.

Bath transfer benches

A transfer bench is a four-legged seat which spans over the outer edge of the bath. They usually have a back rest and a single arm/handle on the end inside the bath. They are used in the same way as a shower/bath board, by reversing towards the bench, sitting down and swinging your legs over the edge to place them on the floor of the bath. Some people may find it easier to use than a board and it offers more support.

As the bench extends outside of the edge of the bath it is more difficult to keep the shower water in the bath, even using a shower curtain. A transfer bench does not require support on the bath rim on the far side of the bath, so may be useful when this is not available.

Swivel bath seats

Swivel seat providing chair-type support in bath

Swivel bath seats fit over the bath and swivel to aid transfers over the bath. These seats have a back support and armrests. Most have a lever mechanism to lock the swivel mechanism in place whilst you are sitting down on the seat and when you are over the bath. These seats do not lower into the bath, you shower from a seated position, or stand if you prefer.

Shower stools, seats and chairs

Please note: When you install a shower stool, seat or chair into a shower with a shower tray, or into a bath, you must ensure that the shower tray/bath is designed to support the weight of a seated person, concentrated through the legs of the stool, seat or chair, otherwise the tray/bath may crack.

When you are looking at or researching seating options, the terms ‘stool’, ‘bench’ and ‘seat’ are often used interchangeably.

Shower stools
Shower stools are free-standing stools with non-slip feet, and often have height-adjustable legs. They sometimes have basic back support and may have tubular armrests or side handles. Some are foldable. They usually have a plastic seat and three or four legs, often made from aluminium or metal with non-corrosive coating. It is strongly advisable you ensure the shower tray you have can support this as the weight distribution of the three or four legs can cause some shower trays to crack. Hard wood designs are also available, but are not adjustable in any way.

Wall-mounted shower seats

A wall-mounted shower seat can either be fixed, in which case it doesn't fold, or hinged, in which case it can be folded against the wall when not used. They often have two legs which rest on the base of the shower tray, but some sustain the weight of the user through the wall brackets, and thereby do not have feet.

Some have back support and armrests, some consist only of the seat itself. If you are considering installing a wall mounted seat with feet it is strongly advisable you ensure the floor base you have can support this as the weight can cause some shower trays to crack, and also that the wall can sustain the required weight of the user.

Shower chairs

Shower chair

Shower chairs are free standing chairs which are either static or mobile. Static shower chairs have four, often height adjustable, legs, a seat and back rest, thus making them a sturdier option than the shower stools. Shower seats with arm rests are also available. Some are foldable, some come with padded seating whereas some have a perforated plastic seat. Similarly to shower stools, if you are considering using a shower chair it is strongly advisable you ensure the floor base you have can support this as the weight can cause some shower trays to crack.

Mobile shower chairs have wheels and can either be user-propelled or attendant-propelled with large rear wheels. They are made from non-corrodible materials so that it does not matter if they get wet. They can be used in a shower cubicle or area - avoiding the need to transfer onto a wheelchair and from there onto a shower stool or fixed seat. They usually have a backrest, armrests and footrests. They take up more space than shower stools or hinged shower seats. Some mobile shower chairs have an over toilet/commode facility, and some have a tilt-in-space function.

Consider the following:

  • The larger the wheels, the easier the chair is to push; whether by the user independently or by a helper.
  • Make sure that there is enough space to manoeuvre the chair into position. Swivel front castors will make turning easier.
  • Smooth surfaced floors are easier to push over than carpet.
  • Chairs with removable or foldaway armrests are easier to transfer onto than those with fixed armrests.
  • Footrests that fold up and/or swing away will also make transfers easier and safer.
  • Chairs with a folding frame can be useful for storing and for taking on holiday etc.

Shower chairs with castor bases

Shower chair with castor base

These small wheeled chairs have a metal frame and plastic seat. They are designed for you to be pushed into a shower area or cubicle. They may be difficult to push over some floor surfaces, e.g. thick carpet, since the small wheels offer more rolling resistance and are therefore more difficult to push. However, because of their smaller overall dimensions, they take up less space. There are generally brakes on all four castors.

Self-propelled wheeled shower chairs
With large rear wheels, these are designed for you to propel yourself independently into a shower area or cubicle. They may also be used as an attendant-propelled chair where the floor surface is difficult to push across, e.g. thick carpet, since large wheels offer less rolling resistance and are therefore easier to push. Check that you can operate the brakes.

Mobile shower, over toilet and commode chairs
Mobile shower, over toilet and commode chairs (also known as sanichairs) can be used in a shower although they are primarily designed as mobile chairs with an aperture or hinged toilet seat for use over a toilet. They are available with large and small wheels. If you intend to use a multi-purpose chair, ensure that it is suitable for use in a shower.

Shower trolleys, cradles and benches

Shower cradles

Two shower cradles

Shower cradles are four-wheeled devices with a mesh fabric stretched over a metal frame. They have a small range of positions to choose from, enabling you to be showered in a semi-reclined position with knees and hips flexed. This helps to inhibit extensor spasm and provides a more stable position, but it will also reduce the overall length of the cradle so that it can be used in some shower cubicles. Using a cradle requires a carer to administer the shower. It also requires quite significant space to position the cradle.

The mesh is removable for washing and replaceable when needed. Side supports are available and belt straps to keep you safely in position when being showered. Some cradles have a folding facility for stowing away when not being used.

Users of shower cradles are usually hoisted into the cradle.

For more information about hoists, see our information sheet on Hoists and slings for lifting people.

Shower trolleys

Shower trolleys are effectively height adjustable platforms on a wheeled frame where you lie on a padded surface whilst being showered by one or two carers.

Shower trolleys have side supports and there is often a drain outlet in the foot-end to allow the water to run out, often through a hose to control the surrounding environment. They are designed for people with very high care needs and do require significant space in the shower area.

Due to their design, shower trolleys can make assisting with transfers easier for carers since sliding equipment can be used to transfer the user in a horizontal position directly from the bed onto the trolley, thus eliminating the need for hoisting.

Shower stretchers/benches
Hinged stretchers either fold down over a bath, resting on the bath rim, or are wall-mounted in a wet room area for use with a shower. Benches can also double-up as a changing facility.

The user will need to be hoisted onto the stretcher/bench by the carer. Wall mounted benches are either fixed height or height adjustable.

It is worth noting that although this equipment can make showering easier for the assistant (when the user is in a trolley or cradle, or is laid on a stretcher or bench) they have very little control and can feel very exposed and vulnerable. Consideration should be given to the user’s dignity and choice when considering this kind of equipment.

Equipment for use whilst showering

Shower head holders
If an existing shower installation is positioned where you can't reach the shower head, then shower head holders are available from many high street and DIY stores. They can usually be fixed to a wall with either screws or a suction cup attachment. Some shower head holders incorporate a built-in handrail.

Shower screens and enclosures
Shower screens and enclosures can be either wall fixed or portable and can be used in a range of walk-in showers or wet rooms.

They provide splash protection for carers and are usually 750mm or 900mm in height so the carer can reach over them. They are available in a range of configurations.

Long-handled bathing aids

There is a range of long-handled washing and personal care equipment available.

These are designed to help make it easier to reach parts of your body when washing with less stretching or bending, for example washing your feet, back or between the toes.

It may be best to use this equipment whilst seated in your shower to help avoid any potential difficulty with your balance when reaching with the equipment.

Leg lifters

Leg lifter in use

If you have difficulty lifting your legs over the bath rim when attempting seated bath transfers on a shower board or swivel chair, a leg lifter may help.

Manual leg lifters consist of a reinforced strap with a loop on the end. You hook your foot through the loop and then, with your arms, physically lift the loop (and thereby your leg) up to the edge of the bath rim and then down into the bath.

Shower steps

Shower/bath steps can be used to provide a step-like platform outside a raised shower tray/cubicle, lessening the height which you need to lift your legs to get into the cubicle. However, they are not suitable for people who have difficulty keeping their balance, and they will not help you to lift your legs out from a deep shower tray.

If used, a slip-resistant step provides a safer surface to stand on and a grab rail mounted on the wall may provide a secure handhold to grip whilst using the step.

Anti-slip products

Self-adhesive strips or circles for use on the bottom of baths or shower trays are available and may help to reduce the risk of slipping in the bath or shower.

There are a wide range of bath mats readily available on the high street.

These mats are secured with sucker feet to the bottom of the bath, shower tray or cubicle, and are available in a range of sizes.

After showering

Body dryers

Body dryers use jets of warm air to dry you whilst standing. They may be wall-mounted, mounted above you, or made to stand upon.

Wall-mounted body dryers can be positioned in the shower cubicle or on the wall in a shower area. It is not possible to dry all areas of the body from a seated position.

If space is available it may be possible to create an area adjacent to the shower area or have an extended cubicle which provides a dry area for dressing. This could be formed of a long bench seat which you can slide across.

Useful publications

  • Building for Everyone
    Publication which examines buildings and the external environment to achieve equality and inclusiveness for everyone. Available from:
    National Disability Authority
    25 Clyde Road
    Dublin 4
    Tel: 01-608 0400
    Email: nda@nda.ie
    Website: www.nda.ie

Useful addresses

  • Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland (AOTI)
    Office 1 & 2
    1st Floor
    Haymarket House
    Smithfield
    Dublin 7
    Tel: 01-874 8136
    Email: info@aoti.ie
    Website: www.aoti.ie

  • Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP)
    Royal College of Surgeons
    St Stephen's Green
    Dublin 2
    Tel: 01-402 2148
    Email: info@iscp.ie
    Website: www.iscp.ie

  • Revenue Commissioners
    FREEPOST
    Central Repayments Office
    M: TEK II Building
    Armagh Road
    Monaghan
    Tel: 047 621 000
    LoCall: 1890 60 60 61
    Email: cromon@revenue.ie
    Website: www.revenue.ie

  • Disabled Living Foundation (DLF)(UK charity providing advice and information and a comprehensive up-to-date database of disability equipment available in the UK)
    England
    Tel: 0044 207 289 6111
    Email: info@dlf.org.uk
    Website: www.dlf.org.uk

  • Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC) (independent research body in UK which produces guides for older and disabled consumers based on professional research - formerly known as RICA)
    England
    Tel: 0044 207 427 2460
    Email: info@ridc.org.uk
    Website: www.ridc.org.uk