It was American novelist and poet Sylvia Plath who claimed, “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.” The therapeutic benefits of taking a bath have been known since the time of Hippocrates when health-conscious individuals first started experimenting with bathing in water at different temperatures (thermalism). As bathing has evolved over time, it has moved from large public pools to the traditional baths we know today in our own homes.
The drawback of this is that for elderly people or disabled people with reduced mobility, enjoying a bath requires them to crouch down to floor level on what will become quite a slippery surface. Dependent on circumstance this can feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or perhaps even both. Getting back out of the bath can be even more of a challenge. You may have experienced it yourself or acted as a carer for somebody else that needed to make extensive use of grab rails to get back out of a bath. This can be risky as grab rails in a non-adapted bathroom are often not stress-tested, as they expect occasional not sustained use. The most comfortable and safe solution to this problem is a bath lift.
In this buyers guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about bath lifts. From the different types to consider, to important factors like installation and maintenance. If you’d like to learn more about adapting your bathroom to make it more accessible, please review our mobility baths page.
What is a Bath Lift?
A bath lift is a device or bathing aid that gently lowers a person to the bottom of the bath and then raises them up again when they are finished. It supports the persons weight, reduces risk of overstaining joints, and ensures a worry-free bathing experience without the risk of getting stuck. There are various types of bath lifts available, and most of them operate in a similar way. The bather will carefully get onto, or be helped onto the lift, then they use a control to slowly lower themselves down into the water. Please see the below video from Molly Bather which shows how this is achieved with a belt bath lift.
The Benefits of a Bath Lift
By assisting with physically lifting and lowering individuals into the bathtub, bath lifts reduce the need for assistance from caregivers or family members.
In addition, a grab rail can be helpful, but it necessitates the user’s exertion of strength to extract themselves from the bathtub. Conversely, a bath lift facilitates the user’s elevation without any reliance on or utilization of their own strength.
Things to Consider When Buying a Bath Lift
When choosing a bath lift, it is important to consider various factors before making a purchase.
First, it is important to consider your safety requirements. If you do not have sufficient core strength to support yourself while lowering into the bath, it may be beneficial to consider purchasing a bath lift seat for optimal support. Each bath lift offers various advantages, so it is essential to prioritize your safety and comfort before making a purchase.
Another factor to consider is the amount of space available. Most home bathrooms are not very big, so it is important to think about the space you have. Can the bath lift be easily removed, and if so, do you have a place to store it? Does the bath lift retract so that others can use the bath, or is it a permanent fixture? These are all important questions that should be taken into account when deciding on a purchase.
Maximum user weight
Because the device needs to be able to both raise and lower the bather, it is important that the bath lift selected offers a maximum user weight that safely exceeds the actual weight of planned user.
You also need to consider the installation process. For example, with bath belt lifts, these need to be attached to the bathroom wall, with this kind of product it is best to seek the support of an experienced installer such as Absolute Mobility.
All modern bath lifts require some form of power to operate their lifting process. This means special care needs to be taken regarding placement and installation. If a bath list is powered by the mains, is it permanently connected or does it require you to plug in yourself? Battery powered bath lifts are potentially a safer option, but you would need to regularly charge the batteries.
Types of Bath Lifts
There are various types of bath lift available ranging in price from several hundred pounds to several thousand pounds. Everybody’s circumstances will be unique, so you’ll need to make a choice based on both your needs and what is affordable.
Belt Bath Lifts
Belt bath lifts have a belt to lower you in to, and raise you out of the water. The belt is connected to a unit that is secured to the wall and to the side of a bath/floor. These bath accessories provide a immersive and unrestricted bathing experience, allowing users to fully soak in the bath. Additionally, they can be easily operated using a simple remote control. Some bathers really enjoy the fact that they do not notice the belt is there when they are in position sitting in the bath. Others may find the way the belt mechanism does not offer enough lateral support as they are lifted out of the water. A popular model of this type is the Molly Bather, a well made device, designed and make in the South West of England
Bath Lift Chairs
The one of the most popular bath lift types is the chair or seat style. There are various different types available all sharing this same benefit. their simplicity of installation. Normally, no screws, glue or special fixings are needed, just unfold the chair, and place it in the bath. As long as the bath is a standard shape and size then it should fit fine.
Having a backrest takes away much of the physical strain of having to sit up straight, and prevents the bather from falling backwards and injuring themselves. For users with limited core strength this is an invaluable feature as it significantly increases both comfort and safety. However, removing the seat from the bath to clean or store may require significant strength, and they are not as discreet as a belt bath lift.
Bath Cushion Lift
A bath cushion is a different type of bath lift. It is inflatable and works by inflating and then deflating as the user sits on it and lowers into the bath. Bath cushions are a cheaper option, and they are also portable, so you can use them anywhere. However, some users may find this option lacks enough support and stability as it is not fixed in place and is not constructed of a solid type of material.
For those that require support from a carer on a regular basis, a bath hoist maybe the best option. These heavy-duty products are used most often in care home environments but can be installed at home. A bath lift seat is attached to a strong metal arm and base unit that is normally bolted to the ground. The arm pivots and lifts up and down, either via battery power or sometimes a manual mechanism. For bathers using a wheelchair or walking frame, the bath hoist gives more flexibility regarding entering and exiting, but they are large devices and are not particularly discreet.
A bath lift can offer support and assistance for individuals with restricted mobility, pain, balance issues, or other health conditions, that might make it more challenging to get in and out of a conventional bath. As we have seen, there are various types of bath lift available designed for specific user circumstances and needs. If you or somebody you care for is supported by an occupational therapist we would recommend discussing your requirements with them. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is also available to answer any questions you might have and to offer expert advice regarding the most suitable bath lift for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any downsides to bath lifts?
For battery powered bath lifts, the user must remember to recharge the battery and build this into their weekly routine.
If the bath lift is placed in the bath and other members of the family wish to use the room, they will need to remove the lift before using the bath.
Whilst they are a more affordable alternative to a walk-in bath, lifts still require the bather to manouver themselves over what is normally a high threshold. This involves either stepping in, or first sitting then, and then lifting their legs over.
How long does a belt bath lift last?
The lifespan of a bath lift can vary based on different factors. These factors include the quality of the lift, the materials used, and the level of usage and maintenance. With proper care, a good-quality belt bath lift can last around 2-3 years. To extend the lifespan, it is important to regularly clean the lift, avoid exceeding the weight limit, and conduct periodic inspections.
What types of bath lifts do you offer?
Absolute Mobility offers a selection of bath lifts including bath lift seats and belt bath lifts. Please contact us today to discover our range of bath lifts and discuss your needs in more detail.
How do you maintain a bath lift?
Like all bathing aids and devices, regular maintenance is necessary to keep a bath lift working correctly and to extend its service life. It is important to consistently clean the bath lift to prevent the build-up of the residue left over from bathing, just like any other item that is regularly submerged in water. Please refer to the cleaning care instructions provided with your bath lift.
What brands and models of bath lift are available in the UK?
Whilst not a comprehensive list, these are some of the brands and models available in the UK:
- Molly Bather Bath Lift
- Relaxa Bath Lift
- Bellavita Bath Lift
- Bellavita NOVA
- Kanjo Eco
- Kanjo Silverline Bathlift
- Aquila Bath Lift
- Aquajoy Premier Plus Bath Lift
- Neptune Bath Lift
- Mangar Archimedes Bath Lift
*Please note options vary across our range and are subject to change by the manufacturer and distributor, and Absolute Mobility reserves the right to make adjustments to its product and service offering at all times for reasons including, but not limited to, changing market conditions, product discontinuation, restricted product availability, manufacturer price changes and errors in advertisements.12 January,2024