Every user is unique, which means one piece of equipment won’t suit everyone out of the box. That’s why adjustable equipment is so important – it makes it easy (and affordable) to meet specific needs, improve comfort and reduce pressure-related risks.
What’s more, it means you don’t have to replace it every time a user’s condition changes, reducing total lifetime costs. It also means that care homes, hospitals and loan stores can recycle equipment, saving them money while ensuring a consistently high standard of care.
To illustrate the benefits of adjustability, this blog post looks at shower chairs as an example.
Arm rest height and angle
Being able to adjust arm rest height and angle is vital. Different users have different preferences, and this ensures maximum comfort, whatever position they need to be in.
If the arm rest is at the wrong height or angle, users end up placing their arms in their lap. Studies have shown having that this position (arms and hands in the lap rather than on the arm rest) can increase pressure through the pelvis by 10 to 15%. Thus, having an arm rest in the wrong position is not only less comfortable but can also lead to pressure-related injuries.
These short videos illustrate simple arm rest adjustability on the RAZ shower chair
It’s also worth looking at arm rest locks. If more independent patients use the arm rest to pull themselves forward or reposition themselves in the chair, being able to lock it gives them the leverage and traction they need to do this safely.
Seat Height and forward tilt
It’s important to be able to adjust the seat-to-floor height of a shower chair, in part so that you can easily clear different toilets. Raising the chair also gives carers easier, more manageable access to the user, and facilitates side transfers.
With the RAZ shower chair, you also have the option to have a 5 to 10% anterior (forward) tilt. The seat pivots in the middle, lowering the front without affecting toilet clearance. Because the forward tilt is a natural position to stand from, it facilitates standing transfers. Plus, it reduces the manual handling risks associated with pivot transfers.
Here’s how it works:
Back rest angle
Most shower chairs come with the back rest at 90° as standard. While this is generally fine for the majority of users, being able to adjust the angle even 5° is useful – especially for those with a limited range of movement.
Indeed, users who don’t have the full range of motion in their hips can’t always tolerate a 90° angle, which means the extra 5° is key to supporting posture and ensuring comfort.
If the user carries extra weight at the waist, then a wider angle at the hip will generally make it easier to carry out effective cleaning.
Watch this short example:
Being able to move the aperture significantly increases postural support. That’s why our RAZ shower chair allows you to move the seat (and in turn, the aperture) forwards, backwards and side to side.
Being able to adjust the aperture position is particularly important for users with spinal or pelvic conditions. If kyphosis is an issue, or if a user is fixed in a windswept position, having a fixed aperture places more pressure on their pelvis, making it harder to go to the toilet. If you can adjust the aperture, you can align it more closely with the pelvis, reduce pressure and help the user relax (thereby facilitating toileting).
Fine-tuning makes all the difference with care equipment
I know it’s easy to think (particularly with shower chairs) that users are only in the equipment for a short period at a time – so while these adjustments are nice, they’re not essential.
But the cumulative amount of time adds up quickly, and activities like toileting and showering are most successful when users have the right support. The fine tuning makes the chair personal without having to go with bespoke equipment, meaning you get the comfort, postural support and reduced pressure risks at an affordable price. Plus, you can ensure the same level of personalisation as the user’s condition changes.
For more information about adjusting shower chairs and other care equipment, visit our YouTube channel.
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