What Is a Transfer Bench?

Elizabeth West
Elizabeth West
Someone who relies on crutches or a wheelchair may need a transfer bench in order to shower independently.
Someone who relies on crutches or a wheelchair may need a transfer bench in order to shower independently.

One common mobility device used by the disabled is a transfer bench, which people with limited mobility use to get in and out of the tub or shower. It usually has four legs with rubber tips to prevent slips, and there are various types of seats available that can slide or swivel. Those who need to use these devices can usually rent a transfer bench from various medical supply stores or humanitarian and disability assistance organizations.

Tools such as a transfer bench allow people who have lost limbs to live independent and full lives.
Tools such as a transfer bench allow people who have lost limbs to live independent and full lives.

A transfer bench is typically made of sturdy plastic with a rust-resistant aluminum metal frame. It is washable with mild soapy water. The legs have rubber tips or suction cups to prevent the bench from sliding or slipping, potentially causing an accident. Most benches support up to 300 pounds to accommodate a wide range of users. Also available are shower chairs and benches that attach to the wall and fold down, or simply sit in the tub. These are usually best for people who can climb over the edge and are often used in conjunction with a safety rail.

Seniors who have difficulty standing up on their own may benefit from a transfer bench.
Seniors who have difficulty standing up on their own may benefit from a transfer bench.

The legs of a transfer bench are adjustable to compensate for height differences in the tub or shower. Part of the bench goes into the tub, up against the far wall, and the legs are adjusted so the bench is level and not touching the edge of the bathtub. The user sits down and slides across, and can then sit on the bench while bathing. A transfer bench may have a side arm on the portion of the bench that sits in the tub, to assist the user in standing and sliding. For optimum safety, healthcare providers recommend using a nonslip bath mat when the transfer bench is in the tub.

Some models have a sliding seat that allows the user to move the seat instead of the body, which is sometimes easier for people who have trouble shifting their weight. An alternative design combines the slider with a swivel seat so there is no twisting of the spine during the maneuver. Persons with extremely limited mobility will usually need a caregiver’s assistance, so the sliding chair seats help them by reducing the effort needed to move the user into the tub. Wheelchair users can use the bench by themselves if they are able to lift their bodies from the chair.

Purchasing a good transfer bench can be expensive. Users with limited budgets can sometimes rent them and other useful mobility equipment for a short time from medical supply retailers. If their needs are long-term, a humanitarian or disability assistance organization may be able to help.

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    • Someone who relies on crutches or a wheelchair may need a transfer bench in order to shower independently.
      By: marilyn barbone
      Someone who relies on crutches or a wheelchair may need a transfer bench in order to shower independently.
    • Tools such as a transfer bench allow people who have lost limbs to live independent and full lives.
      By: belahoche
      Tools such as a transfer bench allow people who have lost limbs to live independent and full lives.
    • Seniors who have difficulty standing up on their own may benefit from a transfer bench.
      By: Monkey Business
      Seniors who have difficulty standing up on their own may benefit from a transfer bench.