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A guide to different kinds of walk in baths and showers

16th November 2015

With more of us now living for longer, issues with mobility are becoming far more commonplace, with maintaining independent movement now often dependent on the use of advanced stairlifts and other such mobility aids for many. Whether it is the result of back pain, rheumatoid arthritis or any other ailment, the aspect of old age that so many fear most is the thought of losing independence and calling on the help of others to carry out day-to-day tasks.

If you, or a family member, are struggling to shower in comfort, walk in bath and shower solutions could be the perfect aid you seek. Here is a quick guide to some of the different types to help you decide on the best choice for your situation.

Sit-in Bath

Sit-in baths are among the most popular choice of mobility aids for the elderly, offering the height of comfort and accessibility with a minimum of effort. They are perfect for people suffering with back pain, or simply lacking the strength to negotiate safely over a conventional walled bath. 

A sit-in bath is always much shorter than a usual full-length bath, designed solely so that the user remains in an upright position and cannot slip down. This aspect makes these types of walk in baths the perfect choice for people who suffer from joint issues such as arthritis, working in a similar method to adjustable beds or rise and recliner chairs to offer the ultimate in comfort and safety.


In terms of walk in bath prices, the complex installation and host of equipment involved often sees the sit-in bath command a higher than average price. 

Full Length Bath

Considered a far cheaper option than a sit-in bath, a full length easy access bath offers the same ease of access as a sit-in bath, but could be the best choice for those who don’t suffer from joint pains. In both cases, a door allows the user to walk in and out with a minimum of fuss.

When taking mobility issues into consideration, it is always best to opt for an outward opening door as they are far easier to open in an emergency. If space is an issue, consider walk in baths with sliding doors to reduce the amount of space taken up by the product.

As is the case with sit-in baths, many full length bath models incorporate jets or whirlpool settings to offer added relaxation for the user. It is always worth remembering that the user will have to get into the bath using the door before it can be filled with water.

Corner Shower

Taking up the least amount of space are walk in showers - something which many homes may already have and something which can easily be adapted for ease of mobility through the installation of handrails, seats and other such additions. This is certainly one of the easiest choices in terms of access, with many incorporating a large sliding glass door as opposed to the far narrower door found on walk in baths. 

In many cases, it is easy to cover the floor of the shower in a non-slip material, such as wet room matting. This will reduce the chance of slipping and therefore offer an increased level of safety for the user. Adding a stool inside affords the user the comfort of sitting down while in the shower - a welcome option for those who have trouble standing up for a sustained period.

Wet Rooms

Those looking for wheelchair access, or an option without a step-in tray, may be best suited to a wet room. These provide a completely level showering area, and have a range of screen & door finishes to ensure that they match the existing décor of a bathroom. Wet rooms are still considered very modern, and can transform a bathroom, on top of its benefits for those with mobility difficulties.

Style or space will not have to be compromised, and will mean that the home is future proofed, allowing for independent living for many more years. Not forgetting that they are also easier to clean, so should make household chores less strenuous for those with limited mobility.

Why choose a walk-in bath or accessible shower

As previously mentioned, there are a number of added benefits which a walk-in bath can bring. The first of these is obviously ease of access, with those who suffer from mobility problems given the chance to get in and out without any risk of injury.

It also means that those suffering from mobility issues have more opportunity to bathe without the help of others, helping them to maintain a higher level of independence and feel far more positive about their situation as a result. Because of the added rails and other features, a walk-in bath will always prove to be a far safer option than a conventional bath.

There is also the size to consider, especially in the case of a compact walk in bath which takes up far less space than a standard bathing unit; this could be the perfect option if you have a smaller bathroom in your home and are thinking of installing a stairlift

Another benefit of walk-in baths which may not even have been considered by those thinking about investing in one of these products is that they can also actively improve the health of the user. It has been proven that taking baths can help to improve circulation, reduce stress, and improve the bather’s sleep patterns, along with offering several other tangible advantages to the wellbeing of those with reduced mobility.

What to do next

Once you’ve decided that you would like to adapt your bathroom, get in touch with a provider of your choice, who will carry out a free home technical survey. During this they will talk with you about your needs, now and in the future, and help you decide on a solution based on this.

Depending on the provider, the survey should be free, will take about 60-90 minutes, and you will be left with all the information you need to help make your decision, with a written quotation. Once you’ve thought about it you can get back in touch to take the next steps.

The cost of a walk in bath or shower solution varies according to the product and layout of your bathroom. Handicare’s prices start from around £4,000.

If you’re looking for financial help to cover the cost of your adapted bathroom, there may be help available. The government’s Disabled Facilities Grant may be able to provide some financial help, depending on your eligibility. Although based on financing your stairlift, this guide may provide some other ideas.

Image Credit: Eelke, Ben Carlson (

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only and are up to date as of the time of publishing