The following is a brief and basic guide to the different types of shower chair that are available, and to their various applications, advantages and limitations. However, please note that every individual's needs are different. Customers should therefore base their purchasing decisions on the user's particular needs and preferences and, where appropriate, upon advice from medical and care professionals.
What is a shower chair?
A shower chair is designed to provide reliable support in a shower or wet room, thereby removing the need for the bather to stand up. Products range from simple waterproof chairs that can be used by people who are mobile but who suffer from fatigue or unsteadiness, to fully supportive mobile chairs for people with severely restricted mobility. These not only help to keep people safe and comfortable whilst bathing, but they also make it possible to move easily in and out of the shower area.
Accordingly, shower chairs are normally made with waterproof and corrosion-resistant materials and, where appropriate, their design should also take into account the comfort and safety of the carer.
Multipurpose shower chairs
Many shower chairs also double as commode chairs. In this case, they have a cut-away or removable section in the base of the seat and the whole unit may be fitted with a commode pan or placed above a toilet. Since many people who may require assistance or support when bathing might also benefit from a user-friendly commode or a supportive toilet frame, buying such a multi-function chair can often enable customers to make an appreciable saving.
Space-saving shower chairs
Some people prefer to have a fixed shower chair that is permanent feature of their shower area. Various wall mounted shower seats are available, usually with drop-down feet and a hinge mechanism that enables them to fold against the wall when not required. However, please be aware that these are only suitable for attachment to load-bearing walls of a suitable strength.
Important features for a shower chair
Which features of a shower chair are most useful will depend to some extent on the type of chair and the purposes for which it is used. However, a good buy should combine some or all of the following.
- Stability - non-slip ferrules on the feet or independently lockable castor wheels.
- A good fit - the height, width and depth of the seat should suit the user. Consider an adjustable model if necessary.
- Fast draining - water should be able to drain away quickly to aid drying and user comfort.
- Security - armrests, footrests and headrests can all improve the level of stability and support. A sturdy lap belt is also a useful feature.
- Ease of transfers - detachable armrests can make side transfers easier. Swing-away footrests are also helpful.
- Comfort - look for good ergonomic designs and the availability of waterproof cushioning.
- Ease of cleaning - warm, humid conditions enable many moulds and other microorganisms to thrive so look for a chair with smooth, seamless surfaces and antibacterial, easy-clean materials.
- Strength - do check that the product's maximum weight capacity is sufficient for the intended user.
- Tilting ability - a mobile chair that tilts puts the user in a more stable position and also allows the carer to adopt a more convenient working posture.