Washing, Dressing, Clothing & Using The Toilet
You may be reading this because you’ve just started to find the muscle weakness caused by your SMA is making it difficult to bath or shower and use the toilet and you need some equipment to help you. You may also be finding it difficult to get dressed and undressed and, if you’re a wheelchair user, that not all clothing is designed well for sitting comfortably or going out in rainy weather. Or you may be reading this because the equipment you've got isn't quite doing the job and you're looking for other ideas.
Page last reviewed / updated: April 2021
Next review due: April 2022
Washing & Using The Toilet
If you already have an occupational therapist (OT), they’ll be the best person to talk to who can sort out equipment so that doing these things is as easy and stress-free as possible for you and anyone else who helps you with your personal care. If you don’t have an OT, contact your GP or neuromuscular consultant and ask for a referral. Or you can self-refer to your local authority Occupational Therapy service for an assessment of your equipment needs at home.
There’s a wide variety of equipment and new products coming onto the market all the time. These include:
- Using the bath: bath chairs, lifts, cushions, inserts and portable baths
- Showering: multi-function shower / toileting / commode chairs, mobile and wall-mounted shower cradles / benches and shower stools
- Using the loo: toilet seats, cushions, frames and rails, urine deflectors, travel urinals, wash and dry facilities.
You may find the information on these Disabled Living Foundation Living Made Easy pages helpful:
SMA UK may also be able to help with funding suggestions. You can find related information in the Living With SMA section: Funding for Equipment.
Managing Days Out
Days out and travelling away from home can bring extra challenges.
Changing Places toilets provide a height adjustable changing bench with hoist and plenty of space. For more information and a map of where Changing Places can be found, see: www.changing-places.org
There’s a National Key Scheme for accessible toilets that can be found in shopping centres, cafes, department stores and in bus and train stations around the country. To unlock the toilets, you’ll need a RADAR key available to buy from: www.disabilityrightsuk.org/shop/official-and-only-genuine-radar-key
You may find that it’s easier if you have clothing that fits easily over your head, legs and arms and you may find it hard to get comfortable footwear. If you’re a wheelchair user, you may want something that fits over both you and your wheelchair when you’re going out. That may mean you find it challenging to find fashionable clothes or footwear that works for you. We’re asking people for their tips and advice on this to add to the Looking Good section. If you’ve already got some suggestions, please let us know so that we can pass them on.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for practical options, adults / families have recommended these websites for adapted clothing: