It is a major concern of many of the patients that I work with: reducing the risk of falls and injuries while bathing.
Feeling safe while using a tub or shower is important. But, they should also think about how they get in and out of the tub.
Tub transfer benches are just one of several bath safety products that may help!
Here’s what you can expect to learn in this Buying Guide to Tub Transfer Benches. Click the link to jump right to that section.
- How Does A Tub Transfer Bench Help?
- How to Use a Transfer Bench
- How to Choose and Buy a Tub Transfer Bench
- What’s Better? Shower Chairs vs. Transfer Benches
- The Best Tub Transfer Benches For Seniors and the Disabled
- Expert Transfer Bench Reviews
- Summary and Final Recommendations
What is a Tub Transfer Bench?
Tub transfer benches are mobility devices which increase bathroom safety by allowing you to sit down while getting in the tub. They allow users to slide into the tub while sitting rather than having to step over the tub wall.
They are a great help to elderly folks with decreased mobility or balance issues, people with injuries to their hips, knees, or feet. Really, they are a great solution for anyone who needs additional support while taking a bath or shower.
These specially made benches can be used by seniors on their own, which significantly increases their confidence and independence because they don’t require help in performing these routine activities.
Also, they are a great aid to caregivers. It’s much easier to have the person you care for sit down and then slide them in the shower instead of holding them up and having them step over the tub wall.
How Does A Tub Transfer Bench Help?
If you choose to buy a shower transfer bench for yourself or your loved one, you will significantly reduce the risk of injury happening. Bathrooms can be pretty unsafe, especially for seniors. There are over 200,000 bathroom falls in the US each year! (source)
A tub bench will reduce the risk of slipping because you sit on it and then safely transfer yourself into the tub without the need for stepping over the wall.
It’s not just about preventing bathroom falls though.
Some people are prone to other injuries such as hip and knee strains. Using a bench like one of these makes it easier and safer to get in and out of the tub. Most seniors feel better about themselves since they can once again use the shower without assistance.
In addition, they are very helpful for people in wheelchairs too! Many wheelchair users can transfer right from their wheelchair to the bench with proper training.
Different types and models are available, and picking the best tub transfer bench will depend on your particular needs as well as the amount of money you are planning to spend. You can get a basic bench, or it can slide and swivel.
How to Use a Transfer Bench
The first thing to do with a new tub transfer bench is to adjust it and secure it properly.
It is important to make sure the seat is level at all times. Often, the height of the tub surface will be higher than the floor outside the tub. So, adjust each leg independently so that the seat is level and there is no wobble or shaking on the bench itself.
Whether you’re using it yourself or assisting another person, be careful when sitting down. Carefully slide (or scoot) across the seat placing the legs in the tub. When finished bathing, slowly slide out. Always be cautious! Even though most materials are made to be non-slippery, you shouldn’t make quick movements.
Here are a few videos illustrating how to do use these products safely.
Video: How to Use a Transfer Bench By Yourself
Video: How to Use a Transfer Bench as a Caregiver
Here is another great video that shows how to use a tub transfer bench as a caregiver of a senior or elderly person
Friends in Deed offers a nice little instruction sheet for all of this that you can print out here.
Also, the Ortho department at Duke University Medical Center offers this printable guide as well.
How to Choose and Buy a Tub Transfer Bench
Here is everything you need to know to buy a bathtub transfer bench for yourself or a loved one. I’ll teach you about the types of benches as well as the varioous options you have to choose from.
Types of Transfer Benches
Different types of transfer benches are available and they have evolved to be more safe and easy to use.
Basic Bath Bench Design
Your basic tub transfer bench is going to have 4 legs, 2 in and two outside the tub, preferably with anti-slip cups. It has one large seat and usually has a backrest.
The user sits on the edge and then scoots over, lifting feet one after the other over the tub. This is good because the person is sitting down but can present discomfort on the hips and knees while moving. Also, sitting on a wet plastic seat for long periods of time can irritate your skin.
Sliding Transfer Benches
Next up we have a sliding transfer bench. This one has a smaller seat which is placed on rails or a sliding frame and allows the whole seat to slide in and out. This way you don’t have to move your hips making the whole process much easier.
The seat can also swivel on some models, to allow you to change the entry and exit position.
Some products, like the HydroGlyde, have commode openings. While it takes away from the surface of the seat, it’s very useful since you can wash your groin area without standing up.
Benefits of Sliding Transfer Benches
Compared to fixed-seat benches, sliding ones are much easier to use.
Like I mentioned, instead of scooting in and out, sliding on rails enables you to move by simply using the handle and sliding yourself. People who are weak and can barely move greatly benefit from this. Caregivers help them sit down and then gently push them inside. This makes the bathing process easier on both the elderly senior and the caregiver alike.
Features and Options Of Tub Transfer Benches
Now that you know about the types of transfer benches available and how to use one safely, let’s look at the different options available so you can choose the best tub transfer bench for you or your loved one.
Padded or Plastic Seat
These are a nice option especially if the user will be on the bench for longer periods of time. If the user is a quick bather though, this feature may not be quite as critical. I definitely recommend padded seats though if the user has any skin breakdown or a history of pressure sores.
Adjustable Height Legs
This is an important feature for a few reasons. First, this is necessary to make sure you can level the seat if the tub and your floor are at different heights. Second, this helps it fit a wide variety of tub wall heights.
Know the weight of the user and make sure the bench you choose will support their weight.
Look at reviews online to determine how easy the bench is to assemble. Most of them are tool-free and snap together.
Armrests are important to help people stabilize themselves while getting on and off the seat. They also help give support while the user is sliding over into the tub. Padded armrests are more comfortable of course.
I suggest transfer benches with backrests especially for seniors with poor balance. This keeps the senior from falling backward during the motions of bathing and greatly improves safety.
Cost is always a consideration. Compare the features above that you need to the cost of the unit.
What’s Better? Shower Chairs vs. Transfer Benches
I get this question a lot: What is the difference between a shower chair and a transfer bench?
Well, even though they serve a similar purpose, these two bathroom safety products are not the same.
Shower chairs are intended to be completely placed within the bathtub. They take up less space. But, shower chairs are better for people who still have the strength and mobility to step over the tub wall to get in the tub. Then, the shower chair gives them a place to sit and rest while they are in the shower.
On the other hand, transfer benches are mostly used by people who cannot get in and out of the tub while standing. This is usually because they cannot lift their leg high enough to get it over the edge of the tub. Or, doing so, causes them to get off balance. Another cause could be they are not able to walk or bear weight on their feet safely.
The Best Tub Transfer Benches For Seniors and the Disabled
As a home medical equipment expert, here are my favorites. My recommendations are based on personal experience with these products as well as extensive market research.
Comparison Chart: Tub Transfer Benches with Ratings and Price
Just want to see a quick list of the best bathtub transfer benches that I recommend? Here they are!
Or, if you’d like to learn more about a specific model, click the “Review” button to jump right to my expert review.
Images, Ratings, & Prices from Amazon Product Advertising API - Updated on 2019-03-23 at 10:54 - contains affiliate links (see footer).
Expert Transfer Bench Reviews
As someone who works with bath safety products every day, here is my expert opinion on each of the following bath transfer benches. Several of these I recommend in my daily practice even though they are not covered by Medicare and some other insurers.
Platinum Health Carousel Sliding Transfer Bench
Even though the Carousel bench costs a bit more, it’s well worth the money. It comes with a sturdy aluminum frame which can support up to 330lbs user weight.
It’s a sliding transfer bench which also allows the seat to swivel 360 degrees. This design makes it easier for the user to get in and out while also saving space. A safety strap is included for added security.
The bench has two armrests which can be raised and lowered to find the best position. Armrests, seat, and backrest all have polyurethane padding which is very soft on your skin, but at the same time it’s slip resistant and doesn’t absorb water.
It’s also easy to clean!
What Users Say
Users are very happy with the quality of this product and say that the price is justified. You get a very durable product. The highlights of this bench are effortless sliding and comfortable padding. People also say the customer service is really helpful if you encounter problems. All things considered, this is probably the best shower transfer bench available.
What I like:
- Two padded armrests for comfort and support
- Seat slides and swivels to make it easy to get in and out of
- Great quality for long time use with fewer problems
- Costs more than many of the other benches
Moen Non Slip Adjustable Transfer Bench
The Moen bench offers a completely different design compared to all other products. It does look very good and comes in a white color with brown trim accents. Some people won’t be as self-conscious about having equipment like this in their bath.
While the seat does not slide, you get a very wide seat so everyone has enough space. It’s ADA compliant with a total weight capacity of this bench is 400lbs.
This one works a little differently than the others. Instead of having two legs outside the tub, it has only one wide leg. Above it, there is a strong grip handle which you can hold to add stability.
Overall height is adjustable between 16.5 and 21 inches which makes this product a good fit for most tubs and showers. A nice addition is the included holders – for a cup and the shower head.
What Users Say
People who tried it had nice things to say. They say this is a well-made bench that can last for a longer period. It’s very easy to assemble and feels secure.
Another plus is that the back is optional or it can be moved to the other side. This allows it to be used in right hand or left hand tubs.
What I like:
- Better looks and styling than some of the other products
- Highly adjustable to fit a wide range of tubs and seniors
- Strong handle to add support and balance
- Seat isn’t padded so may not be as comfortable for long periods
- Seat doesn’t slide, you have to manually scoot over into the tub
Drive Medical Heavy Duty Bariatric Transfer Bench
I chose this one because of the exceptional weight capacity. Made by a well-known medical supplier, this shower transfer bench for elderly can hold up to 500lb! It’s non-sliding, but it has a very wide seat as well as a backrest. Both are made from durable molded plastic but unfortunately, there is no padding.
The frame is very strong and there is no wobbling. The legs have suction cups on them to make sure the bench stays in place while you are using it.
Another plus is that it’s reversible, so you can set it up either way you like. You won’t require any tools for installation, and you can adjust the height to fit any tub using the ½ inch increments.
What Users Say
Many customers have tried it and generally have nice things to say. They comment it was easy to put together, and it always feels safe when they use it. The materials are strong and no shaking occurs, so this bench is recommended to everyone who wants a great product on a budget, not just larger people.
What I like:
- Heavy duty to support larger individuals
- One of the lower priced transfer benches that I recommend
- Easy to clean by quickly rinsing it off
- No padding so it might not be as comfortable as some others
- No sliding seat so the user must scoot themselves across it into the tub
Platinum Health Gateway Premium Sliding Transfer Bench
This transfer bench is very similar to the first one I reviewed. But, this one is cheaper with many of the same great features that the first one offers.
It’s a sliding bench which has a padded seat and backrest. While there are no armrests for the user, there is an assist handle which is also padded.
Like the Carousel, the Gateway padding is made from polyurethane which doesn’t irritate your skin and greatly increases comfort. The seat swivels 360 degrees and can be locked every 90 degrees. The frame is made from rustproof aluminum.
This product is reversible with lots of adjustments so you can fit it in almost any bathroom.
What Users Say
Most people are more than satisfied with the high quality of this transfer bench. It’s lightweight, yet sturdy and it gives you effortless slide in and out of the tub.
Users also point out the 1-year warranty and friendly customer service. It’s still a bit more costly compared to some others but you’re paying for a long-lasting product.
What I like:
- Excellent features for a decent price
- Reversible and adjustable to fit most bathrooms
- Quality built and backed by a warranty and customer service line
- No armrests to support users with poor balance
Platinum Health HydroGlyde Heavy Duty Sliding Transfer Bench with Cut-Out Seat
The HydroGlide is a little different because it is a transfer bench with a commode opening. This can be incredibly practical because it allows easy cleaning of the perineum. It also means the chair can double as a toilet and a shower chair. To use this feature, pop out the cut-out piece. When it’s out, there is a holder bracket to keep it close. Pop it back in to have full seat coverage.
The frame is made from aluminum and supports users up to 420lbs. The legs are adjustable in height and a seat belt is included.
There is a padded assist handle on the side to help with getting on and off of the bench. It also includes a holder for mounting a handheld showerhead (see my favorites here) so that it is always within reach.
What Users Say
Numerous users say it’s worth the money you pay for it. It glides easily even if you weigh more.
The seat is comfortable and dries quickly and the commode opening is incredibly practical.
Finally, many choose this product because it can fit in small and narrow baths.
What I like:
- Commode opening for easier toileting and perineal cleaning
- Heavy weight capacity of 420 lbs to fit more seniors
- Adjustable legs allow the bench to remain stable and fit many different tubs
- No swivel on the seat so the senior wil have to enter it from the front.
Summary and Final Recommendations
Tub transfer benches can restore independence and dignity in the bathroom for many seniors. They help many elderly people remain able to bathe alone or make the process easier for them and their caregivers.
However, because they are medical equipment, it is important to know how to safely use one. Using it incorrectly could lead to further injury. Check with your doctor or therapist if you have additional questions.
To choose the best bathtub transfer bench for you or a senior you care for, learn about all of the options available for these products. Read expert online reviews like the ones I have provided to help you choose. Just make sure the reviewer has experience in this area.
As for my best tub transfer bench recommendation, I’ll go with the Platinum Health Carousel since it’s the most versatile one and has great reviews from actual users of the product.
Even if you feel this one is too expensive or you don’t like any of the others I’ve recommended, I hope I have educated you enough to go out and buy a tub transfer bench by yourself.
Please leave any questions in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them. Have you used a different product that you recommend? So you have any other tips or advice for using a transfer bench?