Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Bath lifts and hoists

Patterson Medical bath hoist
Fixed bath hoist

Bath hoists

Bath hoists can either be fixed in one place - on the floor or attached to the ceiling - or they can be moved around:

  • Fixed bath hoists (electric or manual)
    You'll probably need help with a manual one. When using a bath hoist, you get your legs over the bath rim. Pulling on a grab rail can help you swivel. £1,200++
  • Ceiling track hoists
    Don't take up floor space, and are powered so you can use them without help. £950++ not including installation costs.
  • Mobile hoists
    Can be wheeled about so you can use them in more than one room. When bathing, you sit in a sling, which is attached to the hoist. It lifts you over the side of the bath and down. These hoists can be electric or pumped with a lever. Make sure you have enough room for the base - if your bath is boxed in, you may have to cut a hole in the side panel. £900+

Reclining back. On some hoists, the seat can be used like a wheelchair to get you to the bath.

(++) shows there's a wide price range

Bath lifts

  • Bath lifts fit most baths, and most lifts can be taken out of the bath easily by an able-bodied person.
  • You need to be able to slide on to the seat and lift your legs over the bath rim.
  • You stay on the seat to wash.
  • On mechanical lifts, you are a few centimetres above the bottom of the tub.
  • Inflatable and band bath lifts take you right down into the bath.
  • Avoid lifts with no backrest unless you can sit unsupported.


Padded seats, head supports, high backrests, sliding or swivelling boards to help you on.

Safety - The lifts will not lower you into the bath unless they have enough battery power to get you out again. Some models have alarm buttons.

Using a bath lift

With a bath lift, you sit on the seat, lift your legs over the rim and press a button on a remote control and the seat slowly lowers you into the bath.

There are four kinds of bath lift:

  • Powered seat - a motor lifts the seat up and down. £300++
  • Inflatable - the inflated seat is level with the top of the bath. As air is released, you're lowered into the bath. An electric pump reinflates the seat when you're ready. £350+
  • Bands - you sit on a wide strip of fabric that's stretched across the bath. A motor feeds out more fabric to lower you into the bath. Band-type lifts are fixed to the wall, so are not portable. £695+
  • Manual - these use your weight and springs to go down and up. £600+
Mangar inflatable lift
Inflatable lift
Molly Bather fabric lift
Fabric band lift
Nottingham Rehab Supplies manual lift
Manual lift

Bath lift checklist

If you're considering getting a bath lift, ask some questions:

Is a bath lift the best solution for you?

Before deciding on a bath lift, also think about:

Will a lift suit your bath?

  • does the lift go high enough?
  • if you have an unusually shaped bath, will the lift fit it? Will the suckers still attach?
  • if your bath has built-in grab rails, check they won't get in the way of the lift's side flaps
  • if your bath is plastic, check with the manufacturer that it's strong enough for the lift

The lift

  • is the seat shaped so that water runs off it or does it have a drainage hole?
  • is the seat designed not to get slippery when wet?
  • will it be easy to clean? Check there are no open tubes, which could get clogged
  • if you want a padded seat, can the padding be replaced if it tears?
  • is the backrest the right size, shape and angle?
  • will it leave you enough legroom?
  • will it lift the heaviest person who will use it?


  • generally speaking,  small, light units with large controls are easier
  • can you use the controls with wet and soapy hands?
  • can you see or feel the settings?

Managing the lift

Will you or a helper be able to:

  • operate the battery charger, if there is one?
  • put the lift in the bath and be able to carry, lift and attach it?

Last updated: August 2016

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