Bath lifts are designed to help you get in and out of the bathtub. They are in the form of a chair that you can sit on at the edge of the bath which then lowers you into the water and enables you to wash. When you have finished bathing, they can then be raised to a height that allows you to swing round and stand up from the edge of the bath.
Bath lifts are a great solution if you struggle to step into a standard bath and sit without feeling unsteady, and also if you have difficulty in standing up and stepping out of the bath. A bath lift does all the hard work for you. There are four types you should consider.
Four types of bath lifts
All four types of bath lifts are portable and can be taken out of the bath when not in use. This feature makes them ideal for communal bathrooms where you share facilities with other people in your home.
Manual bath lifts
Manual bath lifts use your weight and the buoyancy of the water to lift you in and out of the bath. A hydraulic mechanism that can be set to a personalised weight raises and lowers the chair. When you sit on the chair, your body weight slowly lowers the lift into the water. When you are ready to get out of the bath, you are required to sit upright and push down on the edges of the bath to release the hydraulic piston, the pressure exerted alongside the buoyancy of the water lifts you back up.
Manual bath lifts are the least popular option as they require good upper body strength are and are often no less expensive than an electric bath lift.
Electric hi-lo bath lifts
Electric bath lifts use powered motors to raise and lower the chair. On most electric bath lifts, a scissor-action height adjustment mechanism is located underneath the seat that is operated by a handset with buttons. You can use this to effortlessly lower yourself into the water and raise yourself back out again. Some electric bath lifts have folding slide boards either side of the chair that fold out when the chair is level with the bath to ease transfer.
Electric bath lifts are appreciated for their excellent support and the minimal effort they require to operate. However, they are often quite heavy and you will likely require assistance to take the lifter out of the bath when not in use.
Inflatable cushion bath lifts
Inflatable cushion bath lifts use air to raise and lower you. You place the initially deflated seat/cushion into the bathtub and fully inflate through a connectable pump/compressor unit. Then fill the bath with water and sit on the bath cushion which will be level with the top of the bath when fully inflated. Swing your legs into the bath and deflate the cushion by deactivating the pump. As the cushion deflates you are lowered into the water. To exit the bath, simply inflate the cushion and you will be raised out of the water.
Inflatable cushion bath lifts are extremely convenient, easy to use, and can be stored out of the way easily when not in use. The only potential reason it would be unsuitable is the lack of postural support, these cushions require you to be able to support yourself when you are sat on them. As a plus point, many are available with a backrest and sometimes even a head cushion for comfort.
Band bath lifts
Band bath lifts are more of a permanent option as they are fixed on the wall next to the bath and do not obstruct day-to-day use of the bath by others. They can be unhooked if necessary. The unit that is fixed to the wall houses a roll of waterproof, permeable material that is electrically unrolled by buttons located on the wall unit. The end of the band that is unrolled from the unit slots into a bracket that is mounted on the floor by the edge of the bath. When getting into the bath, the band should be taut across the surface of the bath so that you can sit on it without it slackening. The band can then be unrolled further to lower you into the bath and rolled back taut to raise you out of the bath.
Band bath lifts are liked for their convenience and the fact that they do not have to be moved when others are using the bath. However, like inflatable lifters, they offer little postural support.
The typical price you should expect to pay for any of the bath lifters above is £200 to £1000. Band bath lifts tend to be the more expensive whilst budget electric hi-lo lifters can offer real value for money. Price will reflect the quality and longevity of your lifter.
If you are concerned about supporting yourself when using any of the above bath lifts, consider fitting a grab rail on the wall next your bath. Even if you don’t use it regularly, it is there in moments of unsteadiness and you may also find it useful in getting on and off the lifter when it is in the raised position.
Mobility Home recommends…
Our preferred supplier for bath lifters is Bath-Lift Limited. Both a manufacturer and a supplier, Bath-Lift specialise in band bath lifts that work with all baths; straight, corner, p-shaped, spa etc. Book a home demonstration to be sure before buying. Visit the Bath-Lift website.