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Transfer Benches and shower chairs are both used to help people bathe safely and independently, but they have different uses. Shower chairs are designed to sit completely inside of the shower or bath tub, with all four feet resting flat on the bottom of the tub or shower floor. Unlike the bath seat, the transfer bench is used straddling the wall of the bathtub or lip of the shower entry. Two feet of the transfer bench are placed inside the bath tub with the back facing the shower head, and two feet are placed outside of the bath tub. This will allow for the person to safely sit, slide and transfer in and out of the tub without having to step over the tub wall. By avoiding having to step over the tub wall, or shower entry lip, the risk of slipping and falling is reduced significantly. Transfers benches are beneficial to both the user and caregiver as it allows for the person to be maneuvered while siting, unlike the shower chair.
1. Place the transfer bench in the bathtub/shower with two legs in the tub, and two legs outside of the tub, so that the transfer bench is straddling the bathtub wall. All four non-slip rubber feet should be placed flat on the floor, adjust the leg heights accordingly to do so. The transfer bench should be facing the shower head, so that if you are sitting on the bench the water would be coming from in front of you.
2. While outside of the tub, stand in front of the bench with the bench touching the back of your legs. Slowly lower yourself to a sitting position onto the transfer bench, do not let your body just fall onto the seat. You can use grab bars or the handles on the transfer bench to assist you sitting down or getting up.
3. Next, you will carefully slide yourself across the bench so that your legs are right next to the bathtub wall. Then gently lift the leg closest to the tub over the wall, and slide a little bit so that you can place that leg safely into the bath tub. Then do that one more time so that you have both legs securely inside of the bath tub.
4. Finally, slide over so that you are comfortably seated inside of the tub on your transfer bench. Some transfer benches have a sliding swivel seat. If that is your case, your seat would have clicked in at its correct position after sliding into the tub.
*It is important to be cautious and patient while bathing and using the transfer bench. 75% of all household injuries and falls occur in the bathroom, so take your time, move slow and use the correct safety products.
Most transfer benches feature height adjustable legs that allow you to adjust the bench to the users specific height for maximum comfort and safety. Some transfer benches may vary in width so it is always recommended to measure the width of your shower or bathtub, and the space next to it if you have counters or a toilet adjacent to the tub that may interfere with a transfer bench. There must be ample room for the transfer bench to rest flat and securely to the floor, while also allowing room for the user to get up, down and slide across it safely.
– Most transfer benches include height adjustable legs. Make sure that the legs are adjusted to the users optimal height for safe and pain free use. The back rest can be removed if desired, but is recommended to always keep the back rest on for safety and support for those that lack a strong enough core to sit up right the entire time while bathing. Using the back rest also assists the caregiver who may be helping bathe the user.
– Rubber non-slip feet (suction preferred) are highly recommended and usually a necessity to have on a transfer bench. Make sure that the bench is rust free for longer term use. Ideally, the seat of the transfer bench will be non-slip and have drainage holes to prevent puddling on the seat creating a slipping hazard.
– Always be sure to check the weight capacity of the transfer bench and the weight of the person using the bench before purchasing. Standard transfer benches have up to a 250 lb. weight capacity, heavy duty transfer benches with a 400 lb. weight capacity are also available.
– It is recommended to keep a bright colored towel or rag on the seat of the transfer bench to help those with vision issues differentiate between the floor of the bathtub and the bench seat. This will also assist people who lack depth perception.
– A handheld shower head is always suggested for those using shower seats or transfer benches as it allows the person to bath more independently, and adjust the power and flow of the water while seated. This eliminates the constant up and down from the transfer bench while bathing, reducing the chance of falling. The hand held shower head enables the user to thoroughly rinse themselves and ensure all of the soap is off of their body and bench.