3. Practical advice and tips for carers > Daily living activities

Daily living activities

7) Bathing and Showering tips video

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In this film you will see a stroke patient and her carer (Jean and Gordon) using three types of bath equipment.

  1. A bath board.
  2. A swivel bath seat.
  3. and a mechanical bath seat.

The type of bath equipment you may be offered after a stroke will depend on the outcome of an assessment by an Occupational Therapist, Care worker or Community Nurse.

  • They consider the person’s individual needs.
  • The safest method or solution to get in and out of the bath.
  • Your own bathroom.
  • The most cost effective solution to meet your need.

Here are some tips on how to prepare the bathroom.

  • Keep the bathroom warm.
  • Have everything ready near by, such as soap, shampoo, flannel.
  • Use a non slip mat in the bath.
  • Have warm towels or a towelling bath robe ready.
  • Keep the bathroom free form clutter.
  • Don’t lock the bathroom door. If the person feels unwell or falls it could be difficult to get in to help.

The bath board is a commonly used piece of equipment as it will fit most baths. It has adjustable pads on the underside which fit securely to the inside of the bath without marking it.

Jean sits on the side of the bath board while Gordon is near by to move her stick to one side and support her back as she moves. She can lift her stronger left leg over the side of the bath. Gordon then helps by supporting her weaker right leg over the side of the bath and he uses his other hand to support her back. Once both legs are in the bath Jean shuffles to the middle of the bath seat and makes herself comfortable. She will have her wash sitting in this position.

Bath boards work well with a hand held shower spray and Gordon does not have to bend so far down into the bath to assist with washing Jeans back or hair. A bath board can be placed at either end of a bath depending on which side is easier for each person.

The swivel bath seat. This fits on top of the bath and has adjustable screws under the seat to secure the seat to any size bath. This type of seat is used for stroke patients who feel more confident or prefer to sit with a back rest and arm rests. The seat is fitted with a brake position. Gordon checks the brake is on before Jean starts her move.

Jean and Gordon use the same method as before. This time Jean sits well back on the seat before Gordon releases the brake and starts to turn the seat 90 degrees. Gordon checks the brake is on when the move is complete.

Both bath boards and swivel bath seats are easy to lift out of the bath if other family members are going to use the bath. If using either with a shower, remember to tuck the shower curtain in around the person to avoid water splashing in to the floor. Water can be added to the bottom of the bath to give feet and legs a soak.

The mechanical bath seat is a type of seat is powered by a rechargeable battery pack in a hand set. The seat itself is very heavy and should be lifted and fitted carefully.

The move on to the bath seat is the same as before but this time the seat lowers the person down in to the bath and up again. Take care to sit in the middle of the seat as the side panels will fold up as the seat lowers.

The hand set has suction stickers which will attach to the side of the bath, or a wall, cupboard or shelf. Where ever it is most convenient for the person or carer to reach and use. The handset has a separate charger unit which is recharged in a normal electric socket outside the bathroom.

The seat has suction cups to hold it in place at the bottom of the bath. Be careful to follow the instructions which should be delivered with the seat. Do not fill the bath more than a third full as the water level will rise as the seat lowers. More water can be added later.

When using any bath equipment remember:

  • Ask the person to test the water temperature with their unaffected hand first before they get in.
  • Do not use bath oils or bubble bath when using a bath seat.
  • Don’t be tempted to lower the person into the bottom of the bath from a bath board or seat. It will be far more difficult to get out.
  • If the person does fall in the bath don’t attempt to lift them out of a bath alone – get help.
  • Let the water drain out before attempting to get the person out of the bath.

 If the person has poor sitting balance it may be too risky to attempt to use a bath even with equipment like this until their balance improves. If balance continues to be a problem the person may need bed baths or an alternative could be considered for the long term such as a wheelchair adapted shower room. Discuss this with an Occupational Therapist or Nurse.

Adding  grab rails next to the bath or shower can be safer provided they are fitted in the correct position for the person. The grab rails should be fitted by an approved joiner. It may not be possible to fit a rail to a thin partition wall.

For some people bathing is no longer a safe option. If sitting balance is unsafe for example. For those people who are very dependent, a bed bath may be the only remaining option. This is usually done by paid carers as part of a larger care package. If it has not been included in a care package, speak to the care provider and ask for this important role to be included. The bed bath should be thorough and the person must be dried well after washing. It is important for the carer to check the persons body and skin for signs of pressure areas, bruising or redness from sitting in the same position for a period of time. This is especially important if the person is also incontinent.