Solutions to a wheelchair user’s difficulty accessing their bath

This article is to look at ways of solving a person’s difficulty accessing washing facilities. In this case, the person is a wheelchair user. She is able to stand with a piece of equipment called a patient turner with the assistance of 1 person. Her bathroom, unfortunately has a step up to where the bath is, which is not accessible with her wheelchair. There is an over bath shower in place but it is fixed so the spray of water can only be reached in one place. She is not able to step over the edge of the bath to get into it. Below are some photos and several solutions that are possible to give this person access to washing facilities.bathroom with step

The bathroom in the photo is to be used by a wheelchair user. There are several possible options available.


Soloution1) The first option is for the person to continue using the bathlift, which you can see in the photo. This would be placed into the bath. A portable ramp could be used to wheel her up on wheeled commode to the bath level. In this case, she is able to stand with assistance, and turn using a patient turner. The patient turner would also need to be wheeled up to the bath level. An issue in this case is the edge of the bath has a line of tiles beside it which increase the width that she has to get over to get onto the bath lift. If she is able to do this, she would sit on the edge of the bath and shuffle back. If required, the carer would then assist her to lift her legs over the edge of the bath.
Consideration would need to be given to decide whether the shelf coming out beside toilet would need to be removed to give more room for the ramp.
The person can then continue using the existing facilities, which include wheeling the commode over the toilet, and the up to the bath. She is also able to use the basin here as it has enough room to allow her wheelchair to get underneath the basin.

2) The second option would be a bath hoist and portable ramp.

This would enable transfer into the bath if the person is unable to slide over to the bath lift. This can be used with the wheeled seat to reduce the number of transfers if required. So the person would just be pushed up the ramp on the wheeled seat, and then the seat would be attached to the hoist and the person lifted and lowered into the bath.

3) The third option would be the most disruptive and the most expensive but it would meet all long term needs. In this case, the step cannot be removed the make the bathroom level due to the heating and pipe work under the step. A ramp can be fitted to the area (again portable or a permanent structure could be made.) The shelf area beside the toilet would need to be removed to create more space. The bath would then be taken out and a level access shower (wet room)? fitted. In this instance, the soil stack is behind the old fireplace in the middle of the bathroom which causes some problems. If a permanent ramp was to be fitted, the toilet and basin could no longer be accessed where they are as the ramp would be blocking the access. These would need to be refitted on the shower level. The best way to conserve space here, is to put the toilet in the shower area. When this is not being used as shower, the doors would be folded back and it would just be a toilet. The person can then be wheeled over the toilet on the wheeled commode. The basin would also be relocated onto this level to enable access.