For senior citizens or those with mobility issues, a walk-in tub is often a necessary precondition of remaining in their own home (rather than moving to a specialist care facility). A walk-in tub allows them the dignity and safety of their own tub while avoiding some of the most common dangers of a traditional tub.
Knowing which tub to buy can be tricky, particularly if the individual has nothing more specific than ‘reduced mobility,’ which may become progressively worse. Moreover, finding the right fit for your home and your budget can also be difficult. For more tips for making your home safer, check out our guide on home safety for people with disabilities.
This guide is focused on walk-in tubs made by the Safe Step company. It will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the company’s models and help inform you as to whether Safe Step is the right fit for you. For cost information, see our guide on the average cost of a Safe Step walk in tub.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN A SAFE STEP WALK-IN TUB?
Safe Step is a U.S. company based in Tennessee with a global reach. It specializes in bathing equipment, including:
These hybrid tubs are distinct from others on the market, and certainly from other walk-in tubs, because they combine the walk-in tub experience with that of a shower.
A user enters the tub through the walk-in door, where they can take a bath in the standard walk-in tub way. However, the addition of dual showerheads also means that the user can take a shower while in the tub. This increases the freedom available to the user, and provides a better range of options, even for those with limited mobility.
Where Safe Step truly differs from its competitors is the range of options available with a walk-in tub. For example, the therapeutic options (water jets and the like) are available in the hybrid tub, meaning you can build a custom tub based on your own specific needs, mobility level, and budget. On top of this, Safe Step provides luxury additions for your tub – such as an adjustable rainfall showerhead, or a hand-held shower wand (or both).
The price for these is between $11,000 and $16,000 including installation, meaning they are at the higher end of the price range. However, the luxury and customizable elements of the tubs mean that they are a good investment for someone who is looking to get the most out of their walk-in tub.
In addition, the lifetime warranty for Safe Step products means that you can be absolutely secure in the product you buy. Lifetime warranty is far from industry standard and demonstrates the attention to detail and quality customer care that Safe Step offers as well as the confidence it has in its products.
STANDARD FEATURES OF A SAFE STEP
Although the real mark of a Safe Step tub is the customization and the additional features, this has to be built on a bedrock of solid standard features. The key features that Safe Step tubs offers are the following:
Low step-in for safe entry and exit.
As befits a company called ‘Safe Step’ who offer ‘walk-in tubs,’ it is perhaps important to start with the entry to the tub. Unlike a traditional tub, which has a wall that a user must step over, a Safe Step walk-in tub has a door that opens to allow access, thus eliminating the need for any climbing. This is often the reason why those with mobility issues make the change to a walk-in tub.
Two grab bars.
As mentioned above, people with mobility issues often can’t move their body easily around in a tub. The grab bars, therefore, provide additional grip and aid maneuverability. They also work as a safety feature, since they make it much easier to move in and around in the tub.
10 adjustable hydro-jets.
The benefits of bathing for someone who has mobility issues are well-documented. Not only is there the basic need of hygiene, but soaking in a tub can aid with joint pain, help with skin conditions, and generally improve physical performance. Hydro-jets help with this process since they allow for a massaging effect on key areas of the user’s body.
A hand-held shower wand.
Since it can be dangerous for those using a walk-in tub to fully submerge in the water, a shower wand enables them to clean their entire body safely and efficiently.
Safe water ozone cleaning system.
This system is designed to help keep the jets clean and free from mold and bacteria; this ensures that the tub is as hygienic as possible, and means that you can get many years of use out of it. It effectively becomes a self-cleaning tub due to this system. Since cleaning a tub is not always possible for those with mobility challenges, this is a vital feature.
This, again, increases safety by making it easier for the user to grip on the floor, thus preventing slips and falls that are common amongst those with reduced mobility.
For those with limited mobility, one of the ever-present dangers of a bath is that of scalding. If the water is too hot, it’s not always possible for the user to get out quickly enough, and therefore they can end up being badly burned. Installing anti-scald technology as standard helps to keep the user safe by ‘capping’ the water temperature as it comes out of the tub.
Walk-in tubs do have one major structural disadvantage over traditional tubs in that the user has to sit in the tub while it fills and drains. The door can’t be opened while there is water remaining; this means that the user has to sit post-bathing in the tub as it drains, potentially causing them to become chilled by the air while waiting. Fast-draining in particular is therefore an important feature for both safety and comfort.
Contoured heated seat.
In addition to the fast-draining capability, Safe Step tubs come with contoured heated seats as standard. This helps to avoid the problem of being in a draining tub in the cold air. It also ensures additional comfort and that the user is in an optimal seating position.
A SAFE STEP
Where Safe Step truly differs from the competition is in its luxury offerings. The above features all come as standard, although the following are optional add-ons that may fit your specific needs:
Depending on your requirements, you can choose different therapies that can be integrated into your tub. For example, Safe Step offers hydro-jet water therapy, chromotherapy, aromatherapy, air therapy, and a dual hydrotherapy massage. You can even have a built-in bidet installed as part of the personal hygiene therapy system.
WHIRLPOOL AND AIR MASSAGE
This arrangement is part of the dual hydrotherapy massage system and is designed to function as a full-body massage. The whirlpool provides relief for those parts of your body under the water, while the air massage does the same for the rest of your body. This is specifically targeted at those with stress, insomnia, colds, lower back pain, arthritis, and diabetes.
It may seem counterintuitive for a tub to be offering air therapy, although what this means in practice is that small, oxygen-enriched bubbles are sent throughout the tub. These bubbles are designed to stimulate the skin and help exfoliate any dirt and toxins from your system. This system also releases additional warmth into the bath, allowing the user to soak in the tub longer.
PRO AND CONS
OF SAFE STEP
So now we’ve covered the features of the tub, what about the advantages and disadvantages. Although your decision can ultimately only be driven by your own specific needs, it’s worth considering the following:
Although requiring a walk-in tub is not something you can choose, it is something that still gives you options. You can choose which company to buy your tub from, which options are right for you, and how to get the most out of your tub. All of these still give a great deal of freedom. Indeed, with Safe Step, there is a lot of luxury to be had.