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Many people with mobility impairments and disabilities are hampered by the fact that they need the bathroom in the middle of the night. They are worried that they will have to struggle to reach the bathroom, in pain, or even fall on the way.
For many who have mobility issues, they want to maintain their safety, independence, and dignity over everything and not have to rely on a caregiver or loved one for assistance when going to the toilet.
This is why a portable commode, whether in their bedroom or living room, can make going to the toilet easier and safer for those who are unable or may struggle to do so.
In this article, we will cover the different types of commode chairs that are available and we will also cover some of the best currently on the market.
Commode Chairs Comparison Chart
Medline 3-in-1 Bedside Commode
Drive Medical Heavy Duty Commode
Drive Medical Foldable Commode
Nova Drop-Arm Transport Commode
Invacare Rehab Shower Commode
16" – 22.5"
17.5" – 22"
16.6" – 22.5"
Width Between Arms
Aluminum & Steel
What is a Commode Chair?
A commode is a portable toilet that consists of a chair with armrests, which has a built-in toilet seat. Underneath the chair, there is a removable bowl that can be emptied after the patient has used the commode.
Commode chairs are suitable for users with mobility impairments, disabilities, or the infirm who are unable or may struggle to get to the toilet. The use of a commode chair provides the patient with an accessible toilet that can be conveniently used throughout the home.
While there are a wide variety of commode chairs, there are 2 main types including, static and portable commodes with wheels. Commodes can be fixed height, while others are height adjustable. Some commodes can be used over a conventional toilet, and others can also be used as a shower chair.
Benefits of a Commode Chair
Commode chairs can offer a patient a number of benefits including:
- Allows users with poor mobility to go to the bathroom – Walking to the bathroom when you have impaired mobility, or you’re infirm, or you’re recovering from recent surgery, can be challenging. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and conditions that affect gait and balance such as cognitive impairments, can also mean that the patient may struggle to use a regular toilet. Having an easily accessible commode chair can reduce the need for the patient to have to regularly visit the bathroom throughout the day. This can be particularly beneficial if the patient’s bathroom is located on a different floor, thus eliminating the need to climb any stairs. It can also mean they do not need to wake up a caregiver or loved one in the middle of the night if they need to go to the bathroom.
- Reduces the risk of slips and falls – The bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in the home for slips and falls. When a person lacks mobility, and they are maybe unsteady on their feet, the risk of falls can increase dramatically. Having a commode chair close by to the patient, especially at night, can mean it eliminates the need for them having to walk to the bathroom, therefore, helping to reduce the risk of falls.
- Increases the patient’s independence and dignity – Relying on a caregiver to help with toileting duties, can not only be embarrassing for the patient, but they may also feel guilty having to wake them up in the middle of the night when they require assistance with going to the toilet. The use of a commode helps to lessen the reliance on a caregiver, and it allows the patient to go to the toilet in private, allowing them to keep their independence, as well as preserving their dignity.
- Avoids the need for costly renovations – Bathroom renovations are often required if a patient suffers with mobility impairments, in order to make it more accessible. These renovations may include such things as installing grab bars near the toilet, widening doorways if they’re too narrow for the user’s wheelchair, installing a shower seat to make showering easier etc. Commode chairs are relatively inexpensive. They can not only be used as a toileting aid, they can also act as a raised toilet seat and safety rail, and some models can also function as a shower chair. A commode chair can therefore be an effective way of eliminating the need for any costly, and disruptive bathroom renovations.
Different Types of Commode Chairs
The most common types of commode chairs include:
3 in 1 Commode Chair
A 3 in 1 commode chair is a versatile toileting aid. As the name suggests, it provides 3 functions, not only does it act as a commode, but it also elevates the toilet seat when used over a standard toilet. It also provides the user with a safety frame to hold onto when transferring to and from the commode chair.
Depending on the model, some are foldable, which others have a fixed frame. Some are height adjustable to suit the needs of the particular user, and for extra comfort, some feature padded seats and armrests.
Drop Arm Commode Chair
For the less mobile user, trying to transfer between a commode and wheelchair or bed can be a real challenge. It can often mean the user may need to stand up and turn their body to maneuver into and out of the commode which the patient may find difficult or sometimes impossible.
A drop arm commode chair tries to resolve this problem by using armrests that drop down, or which are removable, to assist with lateral transfers to make them both easier and safer for the patient.
Wheeled/Transfer Commode Chair
A wheeled or transfer commode resembles a standard commode. The main difference however, is it also features wheels, as well as brakes, and some models may also have footrests. This type of commode is suitable for patients with severe mobility impairments, who may rely on a caregiver to assist with transfers between the bedroom and bathroom.
With a wheeled commode, the caregiver doesn’t need to carry the commode to the patient, it can instead be conveniently wheeled directly to them.
Most mobile commode chairs can be rolled directly over a standard toilet within the bathroom when the bowl is removed. This allows patients who are unable or struggle to use a toilet to go to the bathroom safely, without the need to stand up.
Shower Commode Chair
This type of commode chair is similar to a mobile commode. The main difference however, it can also be used in the shower. This allows the patient who may struggle with impaired mobility or balance, to sit down while they shower, thus increasing safety and convenience.
Shower commode chairs have a rust-proof frame and they are constructed from waterproof materials. A shower commode chair is ideal for those who struggle with washing as well as with toileting and it eliminates the need to purchase a separate shower chair.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Commode Chair
Before deciding on a commode chair, it is important to consider the specific needs of the user so that you can choose one that will prove most beneficial. Here are some important factors you should consider:
It is important to check that the commode chair is suitable for the user’s weight. While most commode chairs have a weight limit of up to 300 lbs, heavy-duty commode chairs are available that can support weights in excess of 600 lbs.
Heavy-duty bariatric commode chairs will feature sturdier and normally wider frames that will allow for easier and more comfortable seating, and will prove less restrictive for larger individuals.
A foldable commode chair is ideal if you’re looking for one that can easily be transported or stored away when it is not in use.
Foldable commode chairs are relatively lightweight so they can be carried between rooms with ease. Due to their compact size when folded, they can be stored conveniently away in a cupboard.
If a commode seat is positioned too low or too high for the user, it may prove uncomfortable, especially if they struggle to get on or off it, which may increase the risk of falls. Not only can it prove uncomfortable and unsafe, but it can also mean the user may need to adopt an unnatural posture when using the commode.
Choosing a commode that is height adjustable is therefore recommended. The height of the seat can be adjusted to suit the exact needs of the individual, allowing for a more comfortable seated position.
While plastic seats are easy to clean, they can prove uncomfortable for patients who are susceptible to pressure sores or for those who are particularly thin. A commode chair that features a padded seat and/or armrests can prove beneficial for those users as it can offer increased comfort. It can help to reduce the risk of skin tears.
Padded commode seats are usually constructed from either vinyl or PU foam. These materials are non-absorbent, and they are often treated with antimicrobial protection. This helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria and odors, and which allows for easier cleaning.
Seat’s Aperture and Shape
The commode seat’s aperture, as well as shape, is another factor you may want to consider. Some commode seats have an oval shape and resemble a traditional toilet seat, while others have a horseshoe design.
Horseshoe seats have a cut-out section in the front that allows for easier access for personal hygiene while the user is seated. Some seats also feature a splash guard which helps to minimize backsplash.
For larger individuals, a horseshoe or oval seat, may not offer adequate support. In these circumstances, a square seat that is wider will provide greater support and will prove more comfortable.
Check also that the aperture size is not too small or too large for the particular user. If the aperture is too small, it may cause unnecessary pinching and therefore cause discomfort. If on the other hand, the aperture size is too big, it may not offer enough support for a smaller framed user.
Some commode seats slope downwards slightly, this can help to reduce the strain on the user’s legs, knees, and hips when sitting or standing from it.
Wheeled or Static?
Another factor you should consider is, do you need a static or wheeled commode? If you require one that only needs to be used in the bedroom at night, a static commode may be sufficient for your needs.
If on the other hand, you need a commode that can easily be used throughout the home, as well as one that can be used over a toilet or in the shower, a portable one with wheels will be a better option. Wheeled commodes are ideal for patients who have limited mobility, and require assistance from a caregiver, to help with transfers between rooms, and assist with toileting and showering duties.
Best Commode Chairs
1. Medline 3-in-1 Bedside Commode
The Medline 3-in-1 commode is a good option if you’re looking for a reasonably priced bedside toilet chair. Not only can it be used as a bedside commode for those with reduced mobility, but it can also be used over a standard toilet to elevate the height of it (pail should be removed first). The safety frame with padded armrests provides the user with extra support and leverage when getting on and off the chair helping to prevent any slips and falls.
If required, the back rail can be removed quickly, and easily. This is useful if you want to use the commode to elevate the height of your existing toilet, in case the chair doesn’t quite fit properly.
The frame is constructed from durable powder-coated steel, and it has a good weight capacity of 350 lbs. To keep the commode stable while in use, and to prevent it from skidding on slippery surfaces, the chair’s feet are fitted with rubber tips.
The commode can be adjusted in height in 1″ increments from 16″ to 22.5″. To adjust the height of the chair, you simply need to press the pins located on the legs and then move the individual leg up or down to increase or decrease the height as needed.
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Height adjustable: 16″ – 22.5″
- Seat width: 14″
- Seat depth: 15″
- Product weight: 350 lbs
- Width between arms: 19″
- Material: Steel
2. Drive Medical Heavy Duty Commode
The heavy-duty commode chair from Drive Medical has an impressive weight capacity of 1000 lbs, making it ideal for bariatric patients. The wider and deeper shaped seat (23.25″(W) x 18.5″ (D)) and the padded backrest provides the user with extra comfort and support while seated.
To assist with lateral transfers, the chair features drop arms. These release easily on both sides, without requiring any tools, allowing for easier and safer transfers. This makes it suitable for wheelchair users or anyone with impaired mobility. To help steady the user when sitting or standing from the commode, the armrests are padded providing the user with good support.
The commode chair is fitted with a large 12–quart capacity commode bucket that removes easily from the back of the chair. Due to it being height adjustable (raises from 17.5″ – 22″), it can also be used over a standard toilet once the bucket has been removed.
- Weight capacity: 1000 lbs
- Height adjustable: 17.5″ – 22″
- Seat width: 23.25″
- Seat depth: 18.5″
- Product weight: 1000 lbs
- Width between arms: 25.75″
- Material: Steel
3. Drive Medical Foldable Commode
The foldable commode from Drive Medical is perfect if you’re looking for one that is both compact and lightweight. Weighing just 15 lbs, the chair can easily be carried between rooms, and if you need to take it with you when you visit friends or family, it conveniently folds flat and will easily fit in the trunk of a car.
Despite it being relatively lightweight, the sturdy and durable steel frame can support weights up to 350 lbs. For those who hate assembling anything, this chair is easy to assemble and requires no special tools.
The size of the seat (13.5″ width) is slightly smaller than some of the other commodes, so it is more suited to slimmer/smaller individuals, otherwise, it could feel a little too restrictive for larger users.
The commode comes with a 7.5–quart capacity bucket with carry handle which is easy to remove once it needs emptying. It also comes with a splash guard which helps to prevent any backsplash.
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Height adjustable: 16.6″ – 22.5″
- Seat width: 13.5″
- Seat depth: 15″
- Product weight: 15 lbs
- Width between arms: 18″
- Material: Steel
4. Nova Drop-Arm Transfer Commode
Best Commode for Lateral Transfers – Nova Drop-Arm Transfer Commode
A comfortable and well-constructed transfer commode, ideal for users with impaired mobility who rely on the assistance of a caregiver.
If you rely on the assistance of a caregiver to help with transfers between rooms, you will probably want to consider a transfer commode. This transfer chair from Nova is fitted with wheels so the commode can be wheeled easily to the patient without needing to carry it. This makes life easier for both the caregiver and patient.
The 4″ swivel wheels provide good maneuverability even on carpeted surfaces. The lockable castors can be engaged or released with the foot pedal without needing to bend down. The chair also features removable swing-away footrests.
The 7-quart capacity bucket can be removed by simply sliding it out from behind the seat.
The transfer commode is relatively narrow (18.5″ width between arms), which means it can easily fit through most doorways, even narrow ones. The commode features a comfortable removable padded seat, which offers increased comfort, which is particularly important if the user is susceptible to pressure sores.
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Height adjustable: 18.75″ (Fixed height)
- Seat width: 17.75″
- Seat depth: 17.5″
- Product weight: 21.7 lbs
- Width between arms: 18.5″
- Material: Steel
5. Invacare Rehab Shower Commode
This versatile shower commode from Invacare is a commode and shower chair in one. This means you won’t need to buy a separate commode and shower chair, therefore saving you both space and money.
The commode is extremely comfortable. Both the seat and armrest are padded, and the footrests are height adjustable. The horseshoe seat features a cut-out section that assists with hygiene. The padded armrests flip back to help with lateral transfers in/out of the commode.
The shower commode has a sturdy aluminum frame with stainless steel components, so you won’t need to worry about it rusting when it’s used in the shower. The pail is easily removable from the rear of the commode. While the chair is not height-adjustable, it is designed to fit over most standard toilets, including ones with an elongated bowl.
The large 23″ treaded urethane tires and 5″ front casters on the commode, offers good maneuverability. It can navigate over most surfaces, whether that be carpeted, or uneven surfaces. The commode can be self-propelled maximizing user independence, as well as carer propelled if the patient requires assistance with transfers.
Finding a foldable shower commode can be a challenge. This shower commode, however, is foldable. It folds compactly, so it’s ideal if you need to store away when it’s not in use, or transport it with you when you visit family.
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Height adjustable: 23″ (Fixed size)
- Seat width: 18.5″
- Seat depth: 18.25″
- Product weight: 41 lbs
- Width between arms: 18″
- Material: Aluminum & Steel