Bathing can be a wonderful time for you and your child. Sometimes it seems daunting and just another task to be accomplished and some days this may be the only choice you have because of time constraints. Other times, you may choose to take some time and turn bathing into a learning opportunity for your child. Once Maya outgrew her conventional baby bather it was time to try and find something to bathe her in safely. I discuss the challenges associated with finding a supportive bathing chair in the “equipment” portion of the website.
We settled on the Dolphin Bather after trying a smaller bathing chair that was not as supportive. I found it (the smaller bathing chair) on e-bay and it was great for traveling but there was not enough pelvic support for her. It looked very similar to this: Snug Seat Minnow Bath Support. The Dolphin Bather is the best compromise between safety/support and allowing our daughter to experience the water a little bit (which she loves). The pictures that you find online do not demonstrate it’s versatility. It works like a lounge chair where you can adjust the back height but you can also adjust the pelvic support section. Most bathing chairs I have seen on the market resemble both of the above mentioned options but are made by different companies and with different materials. There is one other bathing system I have seen which you may wish to consider. It is by Rifton and is called the Blue Wave Toileting System (BTW, huge fan of the toilet system concept). It can be used as a toilet and a mobile shower chair depending on the level of support and the configuration you choose. We purchased it as a toilet only. It attaches to a bar that screws onto the back of the toilet and you can purchase multiple bars for use throughout the house (if you have company etc.) but I digress from the topic at hand.
When we travel one of us will bathe with her with our bathing suit on. This has been the most convenient and safest way to bathe her now. She also really enjoys having this time with us so we occasionally do it at home. It allows us to support her in the best way so she can explore her feet and hands etc., and she has some freedom to try and bathe herself. The bathing chair is safe but it restrains her in a way that makes exploration impossible.
There is a nice accessory which a family member keeps at their house for bathing Maya. I love it. I still have not purchased one because I always seem to forget but it is wonderful. It is called “Aquatopia” and it costs about $25.00. If that is more than your budget allows they have a smaller version for $19.00, or you may wish to try this one by Oxo. Another ideas would be to kneel on several towels. Just be sure to take the time to arrange the bathroom so that you can bathe and transfer your child with as much ease as possible.
When we take our daughter out of the tub we usually spread out one large towel near the tub and a smaller one for her head and place her directly on it. When there are two of us bathing her and I am in the tub with our daughter, I will hand her to my husband (or whoever is helping me) while they are sitting on a stool with a towel in their lap. I purchased some large changing pads for each bathroom for changing Maya once she is dry. It is also great if you are concerned your child may urinate on the floor. They are inexpensive and handy.
If transfers are a problem I found this chair that is made in Canada that looked interesting and allows you to slide the person into the tub using a track system.
We recently had a discussion on the CP Daily Facebook page about bath/shower transfers. Here is a summary I created from 1/30/2014:
We have a suggestion by one mom of having a bench outside of the tub for taking a minute to rest and regroup when getting out of the tub. This is a great suggestion especially when you have a younger child! Having a place at about the same height as the tub may offer a break to stop and dry off and rest a minute. In one of our bathrooms we have a small bench but dad has to help transfer Maya out of the tub and to my lap. Now that she is getting older this isn’t so practical.
If your budget doesn’t allow for remodeling your bathroom, or you live in an apartment, you may want to consider some alternative products that are designed to make transfers easier. Number 4 was shared by a follower with a roll-in shower but the same product appears to have an option for using it with a standard tub.
1. The Tub Dipper: for younger children. One thing to keep in mind is that there needs to be a certain amount of ledge space for the product to work safely and correctly. One issue I had with this product is that Maya couldn’t lean forward to assist with bathing or playing in the water. I do like the portability and it’s helpful that it brings the child (holds up to 100 pounds) near the surface of the tub for transfers:
2. Side to side transfer system: Follower Kari A. offered some great feedback about the system she is using. I found it in the states on Adaptivemall.com. She has the swivel accessory for turning. I see they offer many accessories for support as well.http://www.adaptivemall.com/
3. Dart shared a link to SpinLife and their site offers a nice selection of manual and mechanical lifts both free standing and ones that connect with an overhead track:http://www.spinlife.com/
4. Thank you to follower Theresa for sharing her feedback on the Showerbuddy (same company that makes the TubDipper: http://www.myshowerbuddy.com/. It reclines and can be wheeled over a toilet. They use it in their roll in/accessible shower. Since this company does a nice job of laying out multiple options depending on your needs and budget I am including a link to their line of products: http://www.myshowerbuddy.com/
5. Rifton company posted a comment in this thread about their new Hygeine and Toileting system. We have their current toileting system called the Blue Wave. Before purchasing additional accessories for it to use in the shower, and for the benefit of our readers, I asked them to create a comparison of the two systems:
Comparison between the old Rifton Blue Wave toileting system and the new Rifton HTS (Hygiene & Toileting System) written directly on the CP Daily Facebook page.
“The Rifton HTS can be placed farther back on the toilet than the Blue Wave. If the Rifton HTS is mounted on a wheeled base, the base can be positioned farther back over the toilet than the old Blue Wave system. This assures that there is no leakage between the adaptive toilet seat and the toilet itself. The new Rifton HTS offers much easier adjustability of the seat depth and seat height. It also has a base with a tilt-in-space option, great for showering (tilted backward) or sit-to-stand transfers (tilted forward). On the old Blue Wave the footrest did not flip up; on the new Rifton HTS it does, plus it is also sturdy enough to be used as a step for transfer. There are four base options that the Rifton HTS can be mounted on, in addition to two types of mounting bars to mount the HTS onto the toilet. There are also two optional accessory bases that can be purchased in addition to one of the primary bases or mounting bars: the tub base which fits in most standard-size tubs, and the portability base which is an easily collapsible frame for temporary use during travel. The portability base comes in a carry-bag which the seat, back and armrests also fit into.
The new HTS now offers a butterfly harness, hip guides, a padded abductor and other optional accessories. The mesh backrest of the old Blue Wave system is replaced by optional, removable seat and back padding for easier cleaning and greater comfort. One seat pad option has an opening toward the back to enable hygiene care while the user is seated. In addition, we have a newly designed “splash guard” deflector that maximizes protection. It was designed particularly for boys but it can be used for girls as well if the parent/therapist/caregiver feels it will address a need. The old Blue Wave toileting system did not have a specific headrest while the new Rifton HTS does: a detachable headrest is an optional accessory on the Rifton HTS. The old Blue Wave had a very small anterior support tray; on the new Rifton HTS the anterior tray is padded and much larger. We also heard from some users with low muscle tone that they had trouble with the armrests of the old Blue Wave system where their arms would slide off the armrest toward the back of the chair. To address this, the armrests on the new Rifton HTS are now positioned so that it is unlikely for the child’s arms to slip between the armrests and the backrest, and even more unlikely if the new lateral supports are used. The new lateral supports are independently adjustable vertically and horizontally, similar to the laterals on the Rifton Activity Chair. Additionally, there are other new optional accessories available with the Rifton HTS to keep the user’s feet correctly positioned on the footboard.
Check it out and get more information on specific accessories and features here:http://www.rifton.com/…/bathin…/hygiene-toileting-system (Be sure to click on the Features and the Accessories tabs). Please contact us at 800.571.8198 if you have questions about anything we haven’t mentioned here.”
Our favorite new piece of equipment is…the Rifton HTS!
This is how a piece of equipment should be built!! How often have you heard me say that (hint..almost never). I cannot say enough positive things about how much relief and comfort this flexible use personal hygiene chair has offered our family. Truthfully, I am shocked. I am more often disappointed by our equipment purchases even after intense research and trial, and wonder why products have not been more thoughtfully designed.
Honestly, after several months of use of the HTS I am hard pressed to find the smallest thing wrong with it! Ok, maybe the price point is problematic especially for families who have Medicaid as their only insurance (this would likely not be an option). However, to me this is money well spent and even better if you can justify it to insurance for it’s flexible use (shower, toilet support, bath seat). If you fundraise, I wouldn’t hesitate to throw this into the mix as a possible goal. It minimizes transfers and has been a back saver for us. Best of all Maya is more comfortable in this chair than anything else we have ever used to address her support needs related to hygiene. The other night we even started using it in her bedroom. This was after several years of carrying Maya to the bathroom in the middle of the night because we felt funny about having a toilet chair in her room. We thankfully have gotten over that issue. I ordered the pan accessory and it was easily switched out with the leak guard we use when the chair is rolled over the toilet.
So the highlights are…
1. It’s a rolling shower chair with optional tilt-n-space
2. It can be used as a bath chair-accessory needed
3. It’s a toileting chair that even rolls over our toddler toilet and doesn’t leak with the new guard they created (the old Blue Wave always leaked for us).
4. Maya is sooo comfortable
5. It can be rolled into and out of Maya’s room for nighttime use with the pan accessory.
6. Multiple support options
7. Soft/supportive material that is easy to clean
8. Carry bag and frame (portability kit) available for travel
Here are some additional resources for more involved bathroom design changes:
NC State University Center for Universal Design: Check their website for lots of wonderful accessible design resources including a publication on curbless showers.