Choosing a walk-in bathtub – Part 2: Bather Considerations

This second part looks at who will be using the tub and makes recommendations based on the bather’s mobility and bather preferences and types of bathing systems available.

Is a walk-in tub right for you?Woman exiting Walk-in BathtubWalk-in bathtubs require the bather to be able to walk to enter and exit the bathtub. If the bather has declining mobility or a high likelihood of needing assistance to bathe, then a walk-in bathtub might not be the right choice. A better choice might be a barrier-free shower or a slide-in bathtub, like the Active Living Spa tub.

Again, it is important to note that the bather must be able to walk-unassisted and step over the threshold to use a walk-in bathtub. Walk-in tubs are not usable from wheelchairs or lifts.

Who will be using the bathtub?

Is it a couple using the tub or just one person? Is there another bathtub or shower in the house? Will there be children using the bathtub?  Is there a guest bathroom with a shower and/or tub for overnight visitors?

If only one person will be using the tub, then you only have to consider their needs and preferences. If more than one person will be using the tub on a daily basis, then both people’s needs and preferences need to be taken into account.

Ideally, there are at least two full bathrooms, so one bathroom can be made fully accessible and the other can have standard fixtures in it for other family members and guests to use.


front view child in footwall of WITChildren can fall into the footwell area of walk-in bathtubs. It is not safe for children or non-ambulatory people to use walk-in tubs. Instead consider showers or the Active Living (ADL) Spa slide-in bathtub for guest use if there is only one bathroom.

Is the bather a bath or a shower person or both?

If the person (or persons) who will be using the tub/shower does not enjoy soaking in a bathtub, then a barrier-free shower is the best solution. We have a choice of curtains or sliding glass enclosures for showers and walk-in tubs.

tub bubblesA shower doesn’t let you soak in a tub. The Active Living  (ADL) Spa allows seated, but not standing showers. These limitations may be the main deciding factor. 

If two or more people will be using the tub, then a walk-in tub might be a good compromise – it provides a seated bath, seated shower and a stand-up shower. This choice and flexibility makes this a popular option.

If the bather (and others using the fixture) primarily want to soak in the bathtub, then a slide-in bath, such as the Active Living Spa (ADL) would be the best option.

Bather’s preferred bath position:

Some people are more comfortable reclined and others are more comfortable in a seated position with legs bent.


typical walk-in bath bather positionWalk-in bathtubs and showers offer a seated bathing position.

Aquassure Bathtub Bather PositionSlide-in baths offer a reclined position with legs stretched out in front. The Active Living (ADL) Spa does not require legs to be bent to enter and exit the bathtub. Seatbelts and shoulder supports can be used to prevent sliding forward for those with paralysis or poor trunk stability.


Does the bather have health conditions that would benefit from soaking?

The hydrostatic pressure of soaking in the bathtub helps reduce swelling (edema) and promotes circulation. There are many studies that show that increased circulation helps with immune response, better healing of bedsores, and overall health. As well, soaking helps to reduce spasticity, promoting sleep and reducing need for pain and sleep medication.

“Spasticity is caused by an imbalance of signals from the central nervous system to the muscles. This imbalance is often found in people with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.”1

woman in wheelchair and ADL tubOne of the earliest Aquassure clients with the slide-in bathtub found that soaking in a bath every night reduced the pain of spasticity from stroke and that he slept better with less need for pain and sleep medication.

If spasticity is a concern, then choosing a walk-in or slide in bathtub is a better choice than a shower due to the benefits of immersion in water.

Does the bather need assistance now or in the future?

Best Bath Woman in blue robeWalk-in bathtubs do not allow a caregiver to reach the bather’s lower body and it is difficult to assist them in entering or exiting the bathtub. However, they can be installed with a 2-wall surround (depending on the bathroom layout) that allows the caregiver to access two sides of the tub for assistance with hair washing.

The ADL Spa slide-in tub does facilitate full-body access.  The bather is raised up for easy caregiver access. With a two-wall or peninsula installation, the caregiver can stand behind the bather for hair washing and to help with entry and exit. This bathtub is also lift compatible.bather getting help with hairwashing

Roll-in showers allow use of rolling shower chairs or other mobility equipment for entry and exit. Use of caregiver doors or an assistance curtain lets the caregiver stand outside the shower while assisting the bather. This eliminates the need for the caregiver to have a shower with the bather.

Part 3 Installation – Choosing a Walk in Tub



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