Tips For An Easier Bathtub Transfer – Showerbuddy

Tips For An Easier Bathtub Transfer

Tips For An Easier Bathtub Transfer

Showerbuddy |

Helping someone with a mobility impairment get into and out of a bathtub might sound like a big task – and without the right process and equipment it really can be.
Beyond that, having a proper plan with bathtub transfers is important for both the individual and their carer’s safety. There are a number of mechanics involved in a bathtub transfer; getting over the edge, bathing, and getting out of the bath. In our field of bathroom mobility equipment, we have built on years of research, development and refinement to offer solutions that take care of these various movements – and we’re continually working on ways to make it even easier. There are some factors of bath transfers that you should consider to make this activity a bit less complicated. Read on to learn what these are.

Small bathroom? Prepare for bathing before entering

As with lots of things in life, preparation is the key to success. It’s not uncommon for families to default to bringing their loved one into the bathroom and then preparing the bath and the individual for bathing. In a large bathroom this might be perfectly adequate, but for many bathrooms without the luxury of lots of space, it can make everything much harder than it needs to be.

Instead, prepare the individual for bathing in the comfort of their bedroom with open space and dry surfaces. At the same time or just before this, you’ll want to prepare the bathroom by cleaning up any objects from the floor, pulling back shower curtains or screen doors, and turning the shower on inside the bath. Get this up to the right temperature, and ensure that items like soap and shampoo are within reach, but not obstructing the route into the bathtub.


With the individual changed for bathing and the bathroom ready, it’s now a much simpler and quicker process of getting into the bathroom and into the tub.

Clean the bathroom and clear clutter

An untidy bathroom makes transfer of a mobility impaired person into the bath much harder than it should be. Clutter and objects like laundry hampers, toilet roll baskets, magazine racks, towel racks, stools and any other items in your bathroom that are free-standing should be moved out of the way or removed to make transfers easier. Both manual and equipment-assisted transfers will require this clear space, so it’s just a better idea to take the minimalist approach when it comes to the bathroom.
Beyond clutter, keeping surfaces clean and free of grime is another important part of safe and easy bath transfers. Over time, soap, bodywash, shampoo and oils from the body will make the bath and shower unit dirty. This can make surfaces more slippery and is simply unhygienic if left. Keep the bathroom sanitised and scrubbed clear of this. You may need to remove mobility equipment from the bathroom while you do the clean.

Keep surfaces dry

Along with cleanliness, moisture is an important part of the bathroom environment to manage. Before the bath transfer is attempted, try and dry off the following areas:
  • The bathroom floor – tiles, lino etc
  • The side of the outside of the bathtub
  • The top edge of the bathtub
  • The transfer equipment

Dry surfaces will give the carer and the individual more traction as the transfer is conducted – especially important with any manual transfers where the uneven distribution of weight plus water can create hazards.

Have an OT-approved bathroom plan

Engaging your occupational therapist is highly recommended. They’ll have the best understanding of the individual’s level of mobility, which elements of movement they need the most support with, and what’s realistic in terms of self-managed movements during the transfer. They can also conduct a bathroom assessment in your home to ensure the plan takes into account the layout and access available.
The OT will devise a plan for bathroom transfers that may involve family members, external professional carer and mobility equipment. This plan will cover everything from preparation, transfer, bathing, toileting and drying off afterwards.


Occupational therapists will work with their clients on the plan together. They’ll want to encourage the individual to have input into their own transfer process which is important to feel engaged with the process. They may also coordinate a carer to come in and trial the plan for bath transfer.

Time baths for when everyone has the most energy

If the bath transfer is done with the help of a family member like a partner, make sure that both the mobility impaired individual and the caring family member are both well rested, fed and have plenty of energy; this activity may require manual strength, stretching and reaching – even if conducted safely there is the chance of injury.
If either party is fatigued, the proper technique for manual transfers may be compromised – best to approach it with full energy!

Make use of assistive equipment like a bathroom transfer system

Manual transferring of a mobility impaired person is risky for anyone – professional carers included. Bringing in specialty mobility equipment is a good idea for bath transfers as it takes the heavy lifting away from the process in an environment with slip risks and hard edges. There are different assistive technologies available, some of which do just the transfer.
Some solutions are simply a plank-style apparatus that the user needs to shuffle across themselves with the help of a carer. But this still requires strength and awkward movements.


Instead, a full bathroom mobility system that accommodates the user in a seated position, transfers them across into the bath via a bridge, and allows bathing all without manually lifting is going to make the transfer easier and less risky.

Bathe in a seated or reclined position on a shower chair

Lying in the bathtub with a significant mobility impairment can bring real challenges with transfers and stability of body position without purpose built equipment.

For easier assisted bathing, rotation and transfers, consider an option that allows secure seated position, or equipment that reclines the user if they require pressure to be taken off their core and legs.

Don’t rush the transfer

Accepting that bathroom routines for mobility impaired individuals just takes longer is important. Whilst others in the home might be able to get their full bathroom routine done in 10 minutes during the morning rush, a mobility impaired person and their carer should plan for plenty of time for preparation and the transfer itself.
Going through each stage steadily and carefully will also help reduce accidents. Over time the process may become more efficient for all involved, but don’t commit to quick bathing – and set expectations for the rest of the household as to when the bathroom will be out of use so everyone can plan around it.

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.