Future mobility is also an issue. If the bather has declining health or mobility, then a walk-in bathtub may work now, but might not be accessible in the future. Fear of falling and medications can cause balance problems that seriously affect people’s ability to make safe transfers, even if they are able to walk. Wheelchair and lift users are not able to use walk-in bathtubs and they do not provide clearance for safe assisted transfers nor easy access for lower body hygiene in assisted bathing situations.
In a walk-in bathtub, the bather must be able to step up into the bathtub over a lip or sill. This step can be as low as 1” and as high 6” or 8”. Not all bathers can manage to step up and maintain balance. Consider the lip height that must be stepped over when researching walk in bathtub models.
Seat height is also an issue. It should be at a higher height – a minimum of 16” for the average adult, with 20” closer to ideal for most users. Seats that are too low put unnecessary strain on the knees and are difficult to get up from. Seats less than 12” are pretty well impossible for most mobility-challenged individuals to use.
As the bather enters the bathtub there is a point where they must turnaround and sit down. This is a key danger point as the bather must let go of any wall mounted grab bars, then turnaround and lower themselves from a standing position to a sitting position, largely unsupported. They often use the tub door and fixtures to support themselves during transfer, but this can result in slips and dangerous falls. As well, not all doors are reinforced and solid enough to bear weight without flexing. Repeated weight on the door and fixtures can result in wear, damage and leakage.
Some walk-in tub doors are not wide enough for the bather to enter in forward-facing walking position. The bather must turn sideways and shuffle in through the door. This walking position increases the risk of falls. Larger bathers may also not fit well through the doors of some of the smaller walk-in tub models.
If the door is an inward opening door, the bather must maneuver around the door then stand off to the side and close the door. Smaller tubs with inward opening doors do not have sufficient clearance for this to be done safely. Larger bathers find inward opening doors especially problematic as there isn’t enough clearance for a larger person to get out of the way of the door when swinging it shut.
Outward opening doors require mobility aids, such as wheelchair and walkers to be moved out of the way of the door and require a lot of clearance. The bather must reach out of the tub to close the door or reach handicapped equipment. With swing-out doors the bather may fall out of the seat or while reaching for their walker or wheelchair. Aquassure slide-in bathtubs have the unique benefit of having a sliding door so the bather doesn’t need to worry about clearance, moving disability equipment nor falling out of the tub. Their safety equipment stays right by the entrance of the bathtub, where it is needed.
With the walk-in bathtubs, most of the water is below your knees because of the seat but the slide-in bathtubs cover your entire body with water in a reclined position, allowing your whole body to stretch out and relax.
Slide in bathtubs are accessed by sitting in the tub doorway and sliding in and out of the tub. There are slide-in models with outward swinging doors, as well as sliding and roll-down doors. Some slide-in models are quite large, so will not fit through doorways or in smaller bathrooms, but are more accessible. Aquassure bathtubs will fit in existing 5-foot bathtub enclosures and will fit through doorways during installation.
Slide-in models also tend to better accommodate the larger bather as the tub doorways and interior spaces are larger than the average walk-in bathtub.
Slide in bathtubs remove many of the walk-in bathtub obstacles. Seat height is at average chair height in most models and some, like the Aquassure slide-in bathtubs, allow base height customization. Slide-in bathtubs are accessible from wheelchairs, walkers and lifts. They provide lifetime access, regardless of declining health and mobility. If the bathers’ mobility worsens, they can still use a slide in tub and if they need assistance, the bathtub is assisted-bathing friendly. The bather is supported throughout the entrance and exit to the tub, reducing the risk of falls from slipping, dizziness or sudden weakness or unsteadiness. Since the bather is seated throughout the whole process, they cannot fall.
Aquassure slide-in bathtubs allow the bather to fully stretch out in a full-size, deep-soaker tub to enjoy bathing as it was meant to be. Aquassure slide-in bathtubs sit on a cabinet base, raising the tub entrance to standard seat height. The bather sits down in the doorway, as in a chair, and slides back as if getting into bed. The bather’s legs slide in without strain or bending. There are also four grab bars in place to provide secure, safe handholds during the entry and exit process. After getting into the tub, the bather slides the door shut, relaxes while the tub fills and enjoys their bath.