Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Bathing accessories

Grab rails

  • Grab rails help you move from one position to another, or just keep steady.
  • There's a wide range of grab rails available, some with different shapes and some can be made to measure.
  • Most fix to the wall, but some are attached to the bath or floor - check that they don't get in your way.
  • Handles with suction pads cling to any solid flat surface - useful when visiting and need to use a bath.
  • Prices range from around £5 for basic rails, to £30+ for more complex designs.
SAFETY: A rail that goes around the taps can be used to steady yourself. They fold away when not in use. Note: they're not designed to take all of your weight or help you get up.

Grab rail safety

  • Position grab rails carefully to suit you.
  • Check that the rails are thick enough to grip easily and that there's space for your hand.
  • The wall must be strong and fixings secure.
  • A fixed rail along the wall will give you more support.
  • If you need to hold on with both hands as you step in, fit one on the outside edge of the bath too.
  • Outside rails can get in the way of bath boards.

Think about

  • fitting non-slip bath mats into the bottom of the bath
  • choosing rails that are easy to grip - smooth ones get slippery when wet
  • making sure grab rails are firmly fixed - consult a builder, particularly if you have cavity walls
SAFETY: Don't put your weight on fittings, such as towel rails or basins. Get a firmly fitted rail.

Small items

Long-handled sponge being used to wash between toes
Long-handled sponge bob

Some products can make specific actions or the whole process of bathing much easier:

  • Bath steps can be a cost-effective solution for many people. They can have one or more steps; some come with hand rails. £20 - £155
  • Sponges, brushes, flannels and lotion applicators with long handles are useful if you have difficulty stretching or bending. £5 - £20+
  • Soap dispensers are easier to handle than a slippery bar of soap. An automatic dispenser senses when your hand is under it. £36 - £50+
  • Body dryers work like a hair dryer - so no messing around with towels. £540+
  • Alarms warn you if the bath water is too high or too hot. Some stop the bath from overfilling.
    Bath themometers - £4++
    Water level indicators - £7++
  • Anti-slip stick-on shapes. £5 - £14
  • Non-slip bathmat. Around £7
  • Bath cushions - some go on the bottom of the bath, or some are to rest your head or neck, and theree are ones that fit over the tap to act as a backrest. Some can be used with bath lifts. £4 - £30++
(++) shows there's a wide price range

Last updated: August 2016

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