Handicap Accessible Showers vs. Slide-In Tubs- Which is better for you?


Looking for a handicap accessible bathing solution, that is right for your specific needs? We’ve included some helpful information to help you decide what solution works best for you. Handicap accessible showers and slide-in tubs provide safe, easy access for mobility impaired individuals that can safely enter, exit, and bathe independently.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved safe bathing options available for the mobility impaired are wheelchair accessible bathtubs (also knows as slide-in tubs) and handicap accessible showers. We’ll compare these options for you, so you can weigh in on the pros and cons that each provides.

Handicap Accessible Showers

Handicap accessible showers also known as handicap showers, roll in showers, and barrier free showers provide barrier free access into the shower. These showers have the floor the same level as the bathroom flooring or have a slight 1/2″ to 3/4″ beveled shower lining to provide easy roll in access with a wheelchair. Handicap accessible shower stalls are wider than traditional shower stalls allowing you space needed to maneuver comfortably inside shower. Safety features include sturdy fiberglass construction, slip resistant textured floor, safety grab bars, folding shower seat, and are generally equipped with an overhead shower and a hand-held shower.

The positives of handicap accessible showers are easy access where you can roll in your entire wheelchair and can slide on to the shower seat with use of safety grab bars. The space and maneuverability of a handicap accessible shower are unmatched. Having the full shower enclosure provides you with a full shower experience, so you don’t have to worry about over-spraying water outside the bathtub causing risk of slip and fall injury. Cleaning is generally easier in a handicap accessible shower where it is easier to cover and clean all areas of your body even with limited mobility. For use in a care facility handicap accessible showers provide the easiest cleaning solution, providing the caregiver plenty of space to clean patient whereas a bathtub may be more difficult for caregiver to assist in bathing.

The negatives of handicap accessible showers are they could be more costly due to custom installation depending on area shower is being installed. The bathtub is generally removed and may require plumbing and renovation to place shower where your bathtub currently is placed. Handicap accessible showers also require you to be more mobile with use of hands and arm movement in order to take a shower independently. Other negatives are handicap accessible showers do not provide the full submersion spa experience and slide-in tub provides.

Handicap accessible showers can include additional luxury features such as custom tile, cultured marble, granite, acrylic gel coat, steam, body spray, custom shelving and other custom features to provide more of a home-spa experience for ultimate relaxation.

Slide-In Tubs and Wheelchair Accessible Tubs

Slide-In tubs and wheelchair accessible tubs are bathtubs that include an outward swinging door or side sliding door providing easy access into and out of the tub. The access door is wider that standard walk-in tubs allowing individual to wheel up to tub and slide into tub through wide door opening and safely seat or lay completely in tub for the ultimate submerged bathing experience. Features can include targeted water and air massage therapy, aromatherapy, chromatherapy, inline heater for safer bathing temperature auto-management, hand-held shower, quick drainage, safety grip bars, and slip resistant flooring.

The positives of slide-in tubs and wheelchair accessible tubs are the fully submerged bathing experience, which can include targeted hydrotherapy massage jets, aromatherapy, chromatherapy, air massage jets, and very easy wheel to and slide in directly from wheelchair access and exiting. For those with severe mobility impairments which require caregiver assistance other options are available for easy access such as a clearance lift to help bather into tub and support harness and seat belt to prevent bather from sliding down into tub and drowning prevention. Since a slide in tub is replacing the current tub in your house or care facility, generally the installation is easier and uses the current plumbing.

Negatives of slide-in tubs and wheelchair accessible tubs are they cost considerably more that traditional tubs, require bather to be in tub while filling and draining water, and may be more difficult for a caregiver to assist in bathing compared to the space a handicap accessible shower provides.

If you have benefited from the use of a handicap accessible shower, slide-in tub or wheelchair accessible tub, please share your experience with others below.


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