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Bath boards

Bath boards

Removable bathboards provide a seated platform area over the bath so that someone who has difficulty stepping in/out of the bath can complete a seated transfer. However, while seated the user needs to straighten and lift his/her legs over the bath rim, or have assistance to do this from a carer.

Once in the bath, if the user also has difficulty sitting down in the bottom of the bath then bath boards are often used in combination with bath seats.

Bath boards have an adjustable fixing system (usually brackets on the underside) which must be fitted securely, wedged between the sides of the bath. The board should not extend beyond the bath rims as, if it did, it may tip when it takes the person's weight. Many bath boards come in 3 different lengths so you can choice the length that matches the width of your bath.

The width of the board varies according to the model chosen. Larger users may find a greater width more comfortable. However, depending on the material of the board, a greater width may add to the weight of the board. This will need considering if the board requires moving on a regular basis.

The board may be perforated or slatted, so that water drains away easily if used with an over-bath shower. It can also be made of different materials such as solid or padded plastic, wood or metal.

Bath transfer benches straddle the bath rim and are similar to a standard bath board. However, they are extra long, forming a section outside the bath for the person to sit on and this end has height adjustable legs which rest on the floor. When getting out users can slide across the board, lift their legs over the side of the bath, and sit there whilst drying themselves.

Choice of material

The material and shape of the board's sitting surface will determine how comfortable and easy to use it is.

Moulded plastic

Generally quite lightweight, easy-to-clean and resistant to damage.

Wooden - painted or plastic coated

The smooth surface enables the person to slide across onto the board. However, the coating may chip with heavy use and should therefore be checked periodically.

Coated metal

These tend to be stronger and heavier, and will withstand prolonged use by a heavy bather. The smooth surface enables the person to slide across the board.

Padded

Padding will provide greater comfort especially for people who are thin or in pain.

Compatibility of bath material - metal or enamel baths are usually strong enough to withstand most types of bathing equipment. Many plastic or acrylic baths are not strong enough to take wedge-in bath seats and, when free-standing bath seats and removable bath lifts are used, the weight should be distributed over as wide a base as possible.1 Consequently, before using a bath board, bath seat or bath lift with a plastic bath you should check with the manufacturer of the bath that it is strong enough to support this equipment.

If you are not sure what your bath is made of then use a fridge magnet, if it sticks to the side of the inside of the bath then it is probably made of enamel. If it sounds like plastic when you tap it then the bath is probably plastic/acrylic.

Width of bath rim and level rim - If a standard bath board is to be used the rims of your bath need to be level, at the same height on both sides of the bath and the width of the rims should be greater than 2.5cm (1 inch)2,3. You should check this before purchasing a bath board. If you have corner tiles restricting the width of the rim on the wall side of the bath then these may need to be removed. If a standard bath board will not fit you may wish to investigate whether a wall mounted bath board may fit.
Bath boards are available in different lengths, to work out which would fit your bath measure the width of your bath. Using the correct length is very important. If the board is too long it will stick out over the side of the bath and there is a chance it could tip up if you sit on the end. It should not overlap the outside edge of the bath by more than 2cm. If the board is too short it will not have sufficient support.1,3

If your bath is made of plastic and/or the rims are too narrow or not level you could consider a wall mounted bathboard.

Try before you buy:

When considering bathing equipment an individual assessment with an occupational therapist may be appropriate, as your safety in your bathroom is very important. There may also be individual factors which determine which bathing equipment best suits your needs. The information on this site is not a substitute for individual assessment.

We recommend you try out a bath board before purchase. Visit the Disabled Living Foundation's webpage on Equipment Demonstration Centres in the UK to find an equipment demonstration centre near you. The centres provide individuals with opportunities to view, and try, products and equipment and obtain information and advice from professional staff about equipment that may assist them.

Advice last checked: 01 April 2016 Next check due: 01 April 2019

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement

References

  1. Disabled Living Foundation 2014  Choosing equipment for bathing
    View reference   Last visited:  30/09/2015 Evidence type: 2
  2. Pain, H., McLellan, L. and Gore, S. 2003  Choosing Assistive Devices: A Guide for Users and Professionals
    Jessica Kingsley Publishers :  London and Philadelphia Evidence type: 1; 2
  3. Ricability 1999  Bath boards and seats
    View reference   Last visited:  14/06/2012 Evidence type: 2