Bath aids: choosing the best
Bath aids: what are they?
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Bath aids: what are they?
Find out about the different types of bathing aids to help you keep your independence, plus what financial assistance is available to pay for them.
The ability to wash yourself independently is one of the core elements of your daily life that you may be especially keen to hold on to as you get older, or if you have mobility issues.
Although young people today are more likely to have a daily shower than a daily bath, many people over 60 still use a bath to wash on a regular – often daily – basis. On top of this, a soak in the tub can provide an important source of relaxation.
Yet, sadly, bathing may often be the first area of your physical life to become challenging when you get older. To get into and out of a bath, you have to be fairly agile and have good arm strength – a fact that younger people tend to take for granted. In reality, someolder people come to terms with this fact only after having a fall while trying to get into or out of a bath.
Around 80% of visitors to disabled living centres go to try out bathing equipment, and throughout this guide you can discover various ways of making bathing easier with bath aids.
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There are bathing aids to cater for almost every need.
Good for you if: Your mobility and strength have changed but you value your daily bath.
Think twice if: You have complex or rapidly changing needs – an expert assessment can stop you buying something that isn’t safe or right for you.
Principal Health Researcher
Choosing between different types of bath aids
One of the first things people become aware of when looking into bath aids is that there is a huge range of products available.
There are now bath aids to cater to almost every need. They range from equipment designed for people with reduced mobility who still want to use their current baths independently, to products for those with more challenging physical difficulties who want or need a complete replacement for their current bath – whether in the form of a specialist bath or a customised shower unit.
So how do you decide what type of equipment to go for?
Consulting an occupational therapist
Your bathing experience is completely specific to you, so it’s difficult to make general assumptions about the best types of equipment. It can also be difficult to judge your needs and abilities objectively, so expert advice is important when it comes to choosing bath aids. An assessment with an occupational therapist (OT) is the best way to pinpoint your needs and find out which equipment will be best for you.
To find out more, visit Which? Elderly Care for our guide on getting an assessment for equipment needs.
Trying out bath aids before you buy
Most mobility shops and disabled living centres (DLCs) have bathing equipment you can try before buying. Many also offer to bring equipment to your home for you to test.
It's also possible to hire bath aids from mobility centres. As when buying equipment, it’s best to look for suppliers that are members of the British Health Trades Association (BHTA).
Financial assistance for bath aids and bathroom adaptations
Equipment, such as bath boards and seats, is sometimes provided free of charge by local authorities. Your local OT should be able to advise, or alternatively you can contact your local social services department.
If you have a chronic illness or other form of disability that prevents you from easily getting into and out of the bath, you may also be eligible for a disabled facilities grant (DFG) to cover bathroom adaptations. Visit our guide to financing home alterations to find out more.
You can also claim VAT exemption when buying bath aids. Visit the HM Revenue and Customs website for further details.