6 Things You Want To Avoid With Any Bathroom Mobility Equipment

There’s one thing we know well, it’s bathroom mobility. Our team has developed solutions for families worldwide for many years. Showerbuddy has changed so many lives for the better and we’re proud to be offering this equipment into the mobility community that had previously been forced to choose expensive remodelling based equipment or poor quality standalone solutions. 
A story we hear almost every day are families that have come to Showerbuddy after trying options that didn’t meet their needs. While we’re happy to help, we wish we could prevent more people from making costly mistakes in the first place.

In this article we will talk about half a dozen of the most common issues with some bathroom mobility equipment that you’ll want to avoid. When we talk about bathroom mobility equipment we’re referring to solutions designed to make bathing, toileting and washing up easier for disabled users.

1. Poor quality frame

Everything starts with the quality of the frame in a chair-based bathroom mobility product. If the frame is made from low grade metal or plastic it’s susceptible to cracks, bends and breaking.
The joins of the frame should also be reinforced and affixed securely. Fast and inaccurate welds can spell disaster for a chair placed under the weight of a user. 
The frame also needs to accommodate all the other components in a way that’s secure and accessible – the seat cushion, back rest, foot rests all demand a frame that’s up to the tasks of frequent adjustment and stressors. 

If the frame isn’t covered by a warranty, you should proceed with caution. Manufacturers should guarantee the frame as the core component of the chair. The reality is that many don’t with their products being manufactured at the lowest possible cost to sell as many units as possible. We believe that assistive equipment like this is not a disposal item – both for the safety of the user and the eventual impact on the environment this can have.

2. Flimsy braking system

A standalone shower chair may not have the need for a brake, but anything with wheels will need this functionality to remain safe.
Poor quality shower chairs that are wheeled into a wet room style shower may have brakes, but these often are put together with insufficient tolerances allowing the brakes to slip or even fail. The brake may be mechanical or hydraulic like a bike brake – or have both. Regardless, they need to work every time for years. 

Aside from the braking ability of the chair, also be on the lookout for the mechanism the user manipulates to brake the chair – does the handle provide easy movement on and off? Is it comfortable to use? Is the physical positioning of the brake in a logical spot where it can be accessed without trouble? These may seem like obvious design choices but they’re commonly skipped over in a poor quality shower chair.

3. Uncomfortable seating

A shower chair with an uncomfortable seat is useless on arrival. Bathing and toileting relies on comfort to be a good experience, so any shower stool or chair that uses poor quality foam or plastic for its seating is not worth your time.
Seating should allow for a reassuring firmness that keeps the user stable but with the layer of cushioning that allows extended use periods as may sometimes be needed. In a product like Showerbuddy we use a mixture of high grade foam and PVC vinyl coating which provides all the required support and very easy cleaning.

If you’re browsing mobility equipment and want a quick way to determine if bathroom chairs are good or not, simply test out the seat. 

4. Fittings that are tricky to manipulate

While we’ve talked about some core components of bathroom mobility equipment, now it’s time to consider things from a different perspective – the sum of lots of elements together making for a good or bad experience. In the case of a shower chair, the fittings like height adjustments, brakes, locks and levers all need to be easy to use in both dry and wet conditions.
A bathroom environment comes with a big temperature fluctuation and constant introduction of moisture and drying over the day. If fittings aren’t designed in a way that’s durable and easy to adjust, the chair won’t be up for the task.

It shouldn’t take the user much effort at all to make adjustments to the equipment, so make sure you test each component carefully. 

5. No adjustability

Fittings and controls on bathroom equipment are there to allow the carer and user to customise the chair to suit their needs. So when you encounter mobility equipment that simply does not have any of this, be aware that it may be more of a matter of working around the equipment’s limitations as opposed to the user’s.
This is not what good assistive technology should be in our view; Showerbuddy products’ extensive range of accessories as well as adjustments that are possible standards across our models speaks to our philosophy of equipment meeting users’ needs first. 

Avoid basic, no adjustment bathroom solutions for anything outside the mildest of mobility needs. Even then, we’d suggest speaking to a medical professional or OT about the best solution – a low level of support may evolve to more significant assistance, so choosing a low quality chair in the short term may end up more expensive anyway.

6. Requires multiple manual transfers

The reason thousands of OTs, carers and users love Showerbuddy is how it eliminates the hardest and most hazardous parts of the bathroom routine – transferring between chair, toilet, shower and out of the bathroom. Our solutions require little in the way of manual lifting, which helps to keep the carer safe from strain and user from falls.
A low quality bathroom mobility solution may meet a certain need whilst positioned and using it, but likely won’t do anything to rerisk the transfer process. Sometimes these products can even introduce new risks as the dimensions of the chair require irregular movements and odd weight distribution.

Even without accident, manual transfers build up over time and wear out carers, even professionally trained ones. Since there’s a solution that eliminates these, we’d not recommend a product that still forces such physical exertion in the bathroom. 

There’s a better option

All of these elements in poor quality bathroom mobility can be avoided by researching and choosing a proven and recommended solution instead.

With Showerbuddy, we’ve sought to solve many of the big challenges families had with bathroom mobility including transfers, independence, support and even how to avoid destructive remodelling. In many parts of the world Showerbuddy is funded, but even at cost, it far outperforms other options that display some or all of the issues we’ve outlined in this article.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Showerbuddy can do, head over to our range of products.

Further reading

Enjoyed this article? You may be interested in these resources online:

The information in this article is intended as general information only and is not a replacement for official health guidance by your local medical providers. Please always consult an occupational therapist and/or local healthcare for more specific guidance.