Transfer bath benches

Transfer bath benches

A standard bath board lies across the bath, resting on the bath rim each side. Transfer bath benches sit slightly above the level of the bath rim, having two legs inside the bath and two longer legs on the floor outside the bath. These are height-adjustable. The board upon which the user sits extends out over the outside bath rim over the floor. They also have a backrest and usually a grab handle on the far end.

The user sits on the bench with their legs and hips aligned to the length of the bath. They lift their legs, up and over the bath side and into the bath. They then need to move their body along the board to the middle of the bath, using the grab handle for support.

Transfer bath benches may be suitable as an alternative to a standard bath board if:

  • the user needs the support of a backrest, especially when lifting their legs over the bath rim
  • the user has difficulty swivelling their hips to position the body in another direction, when seated, but can move sideways along the bench (Pain et al, p188)
  • the user would find it easier to lift their legs over the bath rim by being slightly higher up
  • the user would struggle to stand from a standard bath board positioned on the bath, but could manage if it was slightly higher
  • the bath rims will not support a standard bath board, if too narrow or damaged. A transfer bench does not rest on the bath as its weight is supported by its feet.

Models with swivel and sliding seats are available. The seat, usually with bilateral armrests and a lap strap, is able to rotate to allow easier access for sitting down/standing up. It also slides along the frame over the bath. The user has to move the seat as required. The seat is locked/released in each position, usually by small levers. Less able or those with cognitive difficulty may need assistance with these, or an alternative such as a bath lift or level access shower may be better. More information is available in DLF's factsheet Choosing equipment for bathing (DLF 2017).

Before purchasing a band bath lift, consider the following factors.

Bath transfer benches take up more room in a bath than a standard bath board. If using a bath bench there is not enough room to transfer from the bench down to a bath seat or the bottom of the bath. The user will need to wash/shower sat over the bath using a hand held shower spray.

The weight of different models of transfer bath benches varies due to the materials they are constructed from. This may be significant if it will need removing regularly when other individuals use the bath. They are bulky to store.

The user will need to be able to lift their legs over the rim of the bath. A leg lifter may be helpful. They will need to be able to slide or shuffle their bottom along the bench, if a swivel or sliding seat is not used. This may be a risk to those with thin skin which tears easily. Using a bath bench with a swivel/sliding seat is a multi-stage process and may require assistance for a less able user.

NB: Lifting legs up and over the bath side whilst seated may not be recommended for a person who has undergone recent hip replacement surgery, who should not bend their hip up past a right angle.

The bath bench should be set at a height suitable for the user. When sat on the bench in the bath, their feet should be able to sit flat on the base of the bath, with the hips and knees at right angles. This means that outside of the bath, the board is slightly above the height of the knee, but easy to sit back onto with feet on the floor (Research Institute for Disabled Consumers 2018). The bench should not rest on the rim of the bath. Ensure the bench is level when in situ.

Most benches can be adapted for use right or left-handed, i.e. for baths installed with the left or right side against the wall.

Bath benches may be hard or padded. Although padded seats may be more comfortable, the padding may make them less easy to slide/shuffle across. Seats are available with cut outs or commode openings.

Equipment is always supplied with an identified weight limit. If you are a particularly large person, you are advised to weigh yourself accurately and check each piece of equipment. You can then ensure that anything you buy, or with which you are supplied, is suitable and safe for you (DLF 2017).

Try before you buy:

When considering bathing equipment an individual assessment with an occupational therapist may be appropriate, as your safety in your bathroom is very important. There may also be individual factors which determine which bathing equipment best suits your needs. The information on this site is not a substitute for individual assessment. For help finding an occupational therapist, please visit:

We recommend you try out a bath bench before purchase. Visit the Disabled Living Foundation's webpage on Equipment Demonstration Centres in the UK to find one equipment demonstration centre near you. The centres provide individuals with opportunities to view and try products and equipment and obtain information and advice from professional staff about equipment that may assist them.

Advice last checked: 22 May 2019 Next check due: 22 May 2022

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


  1. Disabled Living Foundation 2014  Choosing equipment for bathing
    View reference   Last visited:  30/09/2015 Evidence type: 2
  2. Pain, H., McLellan, L. and Gore, S. 2003  Choosing Assistive Devices: A Guide for Users and Professionals
    Jessica Kingsley Publishers :  London and Philadelphia Evidence type: 1; 2