Shower, over toilet and commode chairs

Shower, over toilet and commode chairs

Shower, over toilet & commode chairs

These multi-functional chairs can be used over the toilet, or as a shower chair, and have the option of being used as a commode.

When used as an over toilet chair these chairs provide greater support/stability while sitting on the toilet. Some will fit over an automatic bidet. They are made from non-corrodible materials so it doesn't matter if they get wet. They either have an aperture (or opening) in a fixed seat or a hinged toilet seat. The commode facility usually consists of a pan-rack fitted underneath the chair, the commode pan slides out from underneath (either from the front or rear).

Some over toilet chairs are more compact than wheelchairs and may be particularly suited for use in small bathrooms where space is limited. Shower, over toilet & commode chairs, may be static or mobile and may allow you to independently wheel into the shower area or to be pushed into the area by a carer. This may reduce the number of transfers, as you can dress/ undress in the bedroom and transfer directly to the shower chair avoiding the need to transfer to and from your wheelchair to get to the bathroom. Alternatively, you could use a ceiling track hoist or mobile hoist to transfer to the chair for use over the toilet or for showering. If so, ensure the aperture of the sling is compatible with the size and shape of the toileting chair aperture.

View DLF's impartial list of static shower, over toilet & commode chairs

View DLF's impartial list of user propelled shower, over toilet & commode chairs

Tilt-in-space mobile shower, over toilet & commode chairs

Shower, over toilet & commode chairs with tilt-in-space facility have a longer wheelchair base but provide a higher level of support and may assist your carer.

The tilt-in space feature allows you, or your carer, to adjust the tilt of the chair's seat and backrest while maintaining the angle between the seat base and back rest. This has the advantage of distributing your weight over a larger contact surface which can increase comfort and contribute to the reduction of pressure under your body, especially on your bony parts such as your buttocks (Canadian Seating and Mobility Conference, 2006).

You may choose a tilt-in-space chair if you require more support or comfort for your torso and head (often referred to as postural support) and/or for example, if you have reduced balance or curvature of the spine, as the tilt may provide greater seating stability and allows the adjustment of your position in the chair (Canadian Seating and Mobility Conference, 2006). If you cannot sit unsupported on the side of a bed and/or have a tendency to slide out of a standard chair you may find the tilt-in-space facility useful.

All tilt-in-space chairs require the use of footplates and head or neck rests. Some of these are provided as standard, in other chairs they are purchased as options which may be reflected by variations in price.

Forward seat tilt (with height adjustment) may make it easier to stand up from a shower chair. A range of backward tilt gives a carer easier access for dental hygiene, hair washing and transfers using a hoist. The height adjustment on some of these chairs may allow easier eye to eye contact between you and your carer and may reduce the amount of bending they need to do when attending to you.

The tilt-in-space facility may be operated by a manual or powered mechanism including:

  • user and carer methods
  • hand lever operated (manual)
  • foot pedal operated (manual)
  • handheld control on a wander lead (powered)

This may be particularly relevant if you, or your carer have reduced hand dexterity or strength.

View DLF's impartial list of mobile shower, over toilet & commode chairs with manual tilt

View DLF's impartial list of mobile shower, over toilet & commode chairs with powered tilt

Considerations when choosing a shower chair

  • Requirements of the chair
  • Would you prefer a static, self-propelled or attendant propelled mobile chair?
  • Can you independently manage the style of brakes? Do you want to be able to disassemble the chair for travelling?
  • What style of armrests, backrest, footplates or push handles do you require?
  • Do you require additional stability from the chair to help you maintain a good toileting position?

Essential measurements for buying a chair

  • You need to know the seat width, depth, seat to floor height, back height, user weight capacity, length of wheelbase for calculating circulation space (particularly important for self-propelling and/or tilt in space chairs)
  • What is the height of your toilet? Will the shower chair fit over it? Will the resulting height of the shower chair be suitable for you? For advice on toilet height please read our toilet height advice page.

Environmental considerations

  • Is there enough space to turn the chair around to back the chair over the toilet?
  • Is there sufficient space around the toilet for the legs/wheels to fit or obstructions beside your toilet, such as pipes running along the wall at the back of the toilet, boxed-in pipes or items such as a radiator which may obstruct the chair (Disabled Living Foundation, 2009)?
  • Check that the backrest of the chair doesn't obscure the toilet flush
  • How easily will the chair move on the floor? Do you have thick carpets? If so, consider the type and size of wheels
  • Are there thresholds and changes in floor surface where movement of wheeled equipment might be hindered? This might be more relevant with chairs with small castors or front wheels
  • The layout and location of the bedroom in relation to the bathroom. Is there sufficient corridor width and circulation space for turns between the bedroom and the bathroom?
  • Is there sufficient space for you, the shower chair and any carers
  • The practicalities of moving equipment upstairs. Check with suppliers, as some chairs can be disassembled
  • The safe working load of the floor or ceiling if ceiling fixed hoist is being considered to transfer a person into a chair or use of heavy duty equipment
  • Storage space for equipment.

The size and shape of the toilet seat and aperture related to your size is important; most toilets or shower/toilet/commode chairs have an average size aperture that suits most adults and children however this may not suit individuals who have larger than average measurements as:

  • If a person has a larger than average size toilet seat, toileting chair or shower chair with a larger aperture and then loses a lot of weight, there could be a potential risk of the individual slipping down through the hole which could create discomfort and possible pressure problems
  • If the aperture size is too small for the user, it could lead to distress and personal hygiene issues. If a larger seating area is required, then consider using a toilet seat that is deeper and a larger aperture size
  • The choice of aperture shape is also important. A central round aperture within a square seat can be more comfortable for a larger person than a standard toilet style seat. A horseshoe shaped aperture can be more comfortable for a gentleman
  • If you are using a ceiling track hoist or mobile hoist, ensure the aperture of the sling is compatible with the size and shape of the toileting chair aperture.
  • Depending on your requirements, we recommend you arrange an individual assessment with an occupational therapist and or/specialist rep who is able to draw up your required specifications for the chair. Sometimes a rep from a company can do a joint visit with an Occupational Therapist. There may be environmental and moving and handling considerations related to the use of the chair.

    You may find it helpful to contact your nearest equipment demonstration centre and ask if you can visit to try a range of chairs. Check the chairs availability before visiting.

    Advice last checked: 01 February 2018 Next check due: 01 February 2021

    All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
    Conflict of interest statement


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    2. Fontein, J. , Canadian Seating and Mobility Conference 2006  Medical review of the benefits of tilt
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