5 must have features of a shower chair – Showerbuddy

5 must have features of a shower chair

5 must have features of a shower chair

Showerbuddy |

The category of ‘shower chair’ encapsulates hundreds of products. And while on first glance it may seem like there are only a handful of types of shower chair, closer inspection suggests that the variety amongst units in terms of their features and build is vast. If you or someone you know is in need of equipment assistance in the shower, you’ll no doubt want the peace of mind that the choice you make is keeping the user safe.
In our long history of designing, building and supplying shower equipment, we’ve been able to establish the non-negotiable aspects of a shower chair that every user demands. Many individuals end up with our products after having gone through a number of other options that let them down in various ways.


Thanks to our experience in this space, we’re able to share with you five common criteria that any shower chair worth its salt should offer the user – and their carer. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but certainly gives you a good starting point to research from.

1. Adjustability

One of the biggest downsides of the cheap options on the market is that they’re fairly unaccommodating for different preferences around a seated position. The user essentially needs to work around the limitations of the stool.
For someone with reduced mobility, this can make for a difficult transfer onto the chair. It can also make bathing a more awkward and uncomfortable process for the user and any care person involved. These cheap basic shower chair options will usually be fixed in place.


Finding an option that instead offers a degree of adjustment in the feet rests, seated position, arm rests, height and even seated angle helps the equipment to become far better a support tool than those models without. Adjustability allows carers to modify the experience to suit the mobility impaired individual, and make changes on the fly as needed. They also help the chair work easier with a given bathroom configuration.

Depending on the level of mobility support needed, the adjustments may not need to be extensive – but some basic configuration can really help.

2. Sturdy build quality

And while being able to manipulate the position of a shower stool is really useful, it shouldn’t come at the cost of robustness. Build quality is too often skipped over with cheaper bathroom equipment – a very risky purchase given the crucial job this equipment has to support a mobility-impaired person in a hazardous environment.
Build quality encompasses a number of things – the strength and durability of the materials themselves, the way in which parts are fixed together and the ease of which users can manipulate or approach the equipment. A shower chair must offer reassurance that it’s game for the tasks of daily showering, bathing and transfers on and off of the seat.
As you look for shower chairs, make a point of finding out about the components and how the whole package has been assembled. In the low cost homeware store options, corners are cut everywhere to bring them under a certain price point. And while there are basic safety thresholds products must meet, the ability for these low cost chairs to withstand the realistic rigours of everyday use and still perform as intended is questionable.


Consider for a moment an individual with little to no personal mobility control. Perhaps they are 6 foot tall and 95kg – a shower stool must be able to easily accommodate any typical size of person through being loaded, unloaded and during bathing.

Some of the telltale signs of poor build quality can be found when inspecting the fittings and machining tolerances. Mass produced, low quality shower chairs will often show signs of poor accuracy in welds, joins and in the condition of screws and bolts. It’s not enough to simply look for a particular type of material; there are different grades of steel, aluminium, plastic and vinyl. There’s a lot of difference between material designed for hospital grade application and something found at a homeware store.

3. Resistance to rust

You might assume that being a bathroom product, all shower chairs would be waterproof from top to bottom. Unfortunately the truth is far from that. Metal components that have not been treated properly or are made from alloys that aren’t resistant to corrosion over a longer period of water contact.
If the potential shower chair doesn’t ensure rust resistance, it’s a non-starter. Rust doesn’t just create potential for frame failure, it’s dangerous for mobility equipment. What’s more, rust can stain bathtubs or showers.


It’s hard to know just by looking at a shower chair if you’ll have problems with rust. That’s why you’ll want to look into the specifications of the product to see if the metals used are graded and denoted as anti-rust. For example, Showerbuddy’s frames are No rust Aluminium frames (Grade 6061 T6).

4. Supportive during bathing

What is the shower chair’s main job? To allow someone who cannot support their own weight or movement while inside the tub or shower. If the unit doesn’t achieve this, does it really have a place in your bathroom?
Despite this seemingly obvious function, there are literally hundreds of shower chairs on the market that don’t accommodate significant mobility impairments in this regard. These models, often from the cheaper end of the spectrum (although this isn’t a rule), will provide a seat for people who become fatigued or want to sit during a shower. But they won’t support proper bathing movements nor any stability with body position changes over the course of the shower.

In your shower chair purchase, you’ll want to check for a number of elements that provide the user support you should expect:

  • Does the seat provide ample cushioning to the user?
  • Is the seat keeping the user secure from slipping whilst sitting down bathing?
  • Are there armrests?
  • Can the armrests adjust to suit the preferences of the user?
  • Is there a reliable backrest?
  • Does the chair offer feet rests to allow the user to bathe without any reliance upon the bathtub or shower unit?
  • Is there an available seat belt to keep the user in place securely?
You may have other requirements that you or your occupational therapist can determine in their assessment. Don’t settle for a chair that misses out on these needs – the headaches and risks caused by these in everyday use will become a problem that needs to be addressed eventually anyway.

5. Enables ease of transfers in and out of the shower

Transferring is a problem so many shower chairs have, and a big reason why Showerbuddy is such a popular choice with occupational therapists and their clients. For many, the worry isn’t so much about the bathing once settled in the chair – it’s getting onto and disembarking that brings with it the concern around personal and carer safety. Transfers in the bathroom bring a number of risks. The hard edges of a bathtub or shower unit, nearby vanity units, the hard tiled walls or floors are common hazards, combined with the slippery surfaces created during and after a hot shower.
Transferring into and out of the shower with a mobility impairment puts strain on the carer and the individual. The shower chairs on the market that simply sit inside the bathtub don’t help with this action. In fact, they can often make getting in harder as there’s less space to manoeuvre within.


Then there’s a category of shower mobility equipment often referred to as a ‘shower transfer bench’. These apparatus intend to make the access to the shower a bit easier for someone with a carer to be slid across the edge of the unit – or for those with good upper body strength to use solo. Their design is like that of a bench with half the unit outside of the bath, and the other half inside. The problem is that despite a comparative high price versus basic shower chairs, they don’t take the manual strain off the transfer which is where many of the accidents occur. These units also commonly have poor quality seats as this is a secondary design concern after the flat bench.

The challenge then becomes finding a shower chair that offers easy and secure transfers inside and out of the tub, and operates effectively as a shower chair whilst bathing. That narrows down the list of choices quite a bit.

Where to find shower chairs that meet this criteria

If the mobility impairment is significant, it won’t just be sitting in the shower that needs support from equipment, but tasks like transfers and toileting too.

Consider not simply showering but ‘bathroom mobility’ in general. That’s exactly what the Showerbuddy range of bathroom mobility chairs are designed for. Solutions for bathtubs, shower units and open plan showers are catered for throughout the range. Explore the full range and the features they provide.

Further reading

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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.