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Bath lifts and hoists

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is the UK’s leading expert in user-centred research involving disabled and older consumers. We have over 50 years’ experience of independent, specialist research.

Patterson Medical bath hoist

Fixed bath hoist

Bath hoists

Bath hoists can either be fixed in one place - on the floor or attached to the ceiling - or they can be moved around:

  • Fixed bath hoists (electric or manual)
    You'll probably need help with a manual fixed bath hoist. You sit on the hoist and lift your legs over the bath rim. Pulling on a grab rail can help you swivel. £1,200++
  • Ceiling track hoists
    Ceiling track hoists don't take up floor space. They're powered, so you can use them without help. £950++ not including installation costs.
  • Mobile hoists
    Mobile hoists can be wheeled about so you can use them in more than one room. You sit in a sling which is attached to the hoist. It lifts you over the side of the bath and down. These hoists can be electric or pumped with a lever. Make sure you have enough room for the base - if your bath is boxed in, you may have to cut a hole in the side panel. £900+


  • reclining back
  • on some hoists, the seat can be used like a wheelchair to get you to the bath

(++) shows there's a wide price range

Bath lifts

Bath lifts fit most baths, and most lifts can be taken out of the bath easily by an able-bodied person.

  • You need to be able to slide on to the seat and lift your legs over the bath rim.
  • You stay on the seat to wash.
  • On mechanical lifts, you are a few centimetres above the bottom of the tub.
  • Inflatable and band bath lifts take you right down into the bath.
  • Avoid lifts with no backrest, unless you can sit unsupported.


Padded seats, head supports, high backrests, sliding or swivelling boards to help you get on.

Safety - The lifts will not lower you into the bath unless they have enough battery power to get you out again. Some models have alarm buttons.

Using a bath lift

With a bath lift, you sit on the seat, lift your legs over the rim and press a button on a remote control. The seat slowly lowers you into the bath.

There are four kinds of bath lift:

  • Powered seat - A motor lifts the seat up and down. £300++
  • Inflatable - When inflated, the seat is level with the top of the bath. As air is released, you're lowered into the bath. An electric pump reinflates the seat when you're ready. £350+
  • Bands - You sit on a wide strip of fabric that's stretched across the bath. A motor feeds out more fabric to lower you into the bath. Band-type lifts are fixed to the wall, so they aren't portable. £695+
  • Manual - Manual lifts use a combination of your weight and springs to go down and up. £600+
Mangar inflatable lift
Inflatable lift
Molly Bather fabric lift
Fabric band lift
Nottingham Rehab Supplies manual lift
Manual lift

Bath lift checklist

If you're thinking of getting a bath lift, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Is a bath lift the best solution for you?

Before deciding on a bath lift, you'll also need to think about:

Will a lift suit your bath?

  • Does the lift go high enough?
  • If you have an unusually shaped bath, will the lift fit it? Will the suckers still attach?
  • If your bath has built-in grab rails, check they won't get in the way of the lift's side flaps
  • If your bath is plastic, check with the manufacturer that it's strong enough for the lift

The lift

  • Will it lift the heaviest person who will use it?
  • Will it leave you enough legroom?
  • Is the seat shaped so that water runs off it? Or does it have a drainage hole?
  • Is the seat designed not to get slippery when wet?
  • Will it be easy to clean? Check there are no open tubes, which could get clogged.
  • If you want a padded seat, can the padding be replaced if it tears?
  • Is the backrest the right size, shape and angle?
  • Small, light units with large controls are often easier.
  • Can you use the controls with wet and soapy hands?
  • Can you see or feel the settings?

Managing the lift

Will you or your helper be able to:

  • operate the battery charger, if there is one?
  • put the lift in the bath and be able to carry, lift and attach it?
This information from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is unbiased and we hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs. We don't sell products. Please search online by product name to find suppliers.

Last updated: August 2018

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