Drop Arm Commode vs 3 In 1 Commode

by | Beginners Info, Personal Hygiene

My mom loves her 3-in-1 commode. Around 22 months ago, after hip surgery my mom used one both at the bedside, and then after that, over our actual toilet. It’s easy to put up in a room, or over a toilet, and just as quick to remove. But there are other bedside commodes which are also great options for different situations and needs.

Drop arm commode vs 3 in 1 commode ? I am going to compare drop arm commodes with 3 in 1 commodes, and discuss how to choose which is best for you in your unique situation. 

What is a 3 in 1 commode ?

 

The 3 in 1 commode is a type of static bedside commode, also known as an All in One bedside commode, which is extremely versatile and can be used to perform 3 distinct functions –

  • a bedside commode
  • a raised toilet seat over your toilet
  • as a toilet safety frame (if your remove the seat and lid)

Many brands have their models, and you can find a lot of different versions –

  • lightweight
  • bariatric or heavy duty for larger persons
  • in steel or aluminum alloy
  • padded or hard plastic
  • with elongated seats to help with cleaning
  • in tall versions for taller individuals
  • in wide and extra wide versions for larger individuals
  • and of course with drop arms

So, as you can see here there are 3 in 1 bedside commodes with drop arms, and they are the same as a static drop arm commode.

3 in 1 commodes come in a huge range of weight capacities from 250 lb all the way up to 1500 lb.

Some examples of 3 in 1 commodes are –

 

Drive Medical deluxe steel drop arm commode, Prod. No. 11125KD-1, weight capacity  300 lb

Lifestyle Mobility Aids folding 3-in-1 steel commode, Prod. No. B3400F, weight capacity  300 lb,

Probasics 3-in-1 steel commode, Prod. No. BS31C, weight capacity  300 lb

Lumex drop arm 3-in-1 commode, Prod. No. 6433A, weight capacity  300 lb

TFI Healthcare 3-in-1 commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 3223G, weight capacity  400 lb

Tuffcare extra wide drop arm commode chair, Prod. No. M470, weight capacity  450 lb

Probasics bariatric commode extra wide seat, Prod. No. BSB24C, weight capacity  650 lb

Performance Health heavy-duty 3-in-1 drop arm commode, Prod. No. 081202704, weight capacity  600 lb

Performance Health drop arm all-in-one commode, Prod. No. 081110287, weight capacity  700 lb

Homecraft deluxe bariatric drop arm commode, Prod. No. 081706381, weight capacity  1000 lb

1500 lb – Model 736DAR Bedside commode w/ right drop arm, left arm fixed, Prod. No. 736DAR, weight capacity  1500 lb

 

I have an article which I keep fully up to date, with lists of all the models of the different types of bedside commode, their model number and their maximum weight capacity. The article is “Bedside commode weight capacity: over 140 examples” and you can find it here.

Personally, at home we have a 3 in 1 commode (without drop arms), which my elderly mom, of 91 yrs, has been using for almost two years now, and we have found it to be very satisfactory for her needs.

Mom had it in her room, for a while after hip replacement surgery, and then moved it into the bathroom, where it has been used ever since by her as a raised toilet seat.

I always just lift it off when I want to use the toilet, and it only takes a matter of a second or two to lift it off, and to put it back in place.

My mom was given sponge baths on her 3 in 1 commode by nurses in our home, and they just covered it with a large heavy towel.

You must take care not to get the steel parts wet – even if your commode is made from aluminum alloy, it may have springs etc in it which will rust if you get them wet.

If you have a steel commode I wouldn’t try at all to use it in wet conditions as it will just rust.

 

What is a drop arm commode ?

A drop arm commode is a commode which has arms, or armrests, which can move out of the fixed position on the commode (down, behind the backrest, or be removed), to allow a user to gain access to the commode from the side (a lateral transfer), rather than from the front.

The commodes are designed with wheelchair users and people who are bed-bound, or people who can’t stand to sit for whatever reason, in mind.

Drop arm commodes can also be very practical if you are looking after an elderly parent, or loved one, and you need to be able to help them from the side without the armrest getting in the way all the time.

Once your loved one has sat in position on the commode, you can always put the armrest back into the standard position.

Many brands have models of drop arm commodes (just like the 3 in 1 commodes), and you can find a lot of different variations on the basic set up –

  • lightweight
  • bariatric or heavy duty for larger individuals
  • steel, aluminum alloy or PVC frames
  • padded or hard plastic seats and armrests
  • elongated seats for easier to help the user with cleaning themselves
  • tall versions for taller individuals
  • wide and extra wide models for larger individuals

There are various types of commodes with drop arms, so I will discuss each one and compare them with the 3 in 1 commode. 

Static drop arm commodes

The static drop arm bedside commodes can also be used –

  • a bedside commode
  • a toilet safety frame
  • a raised toilet seat over your toilet

 

Some examples of the different static drop arm commodes are –

 

  • Drive Medical deluxe steel drop arm commode, Prod. No. 11125KD-1, weight capacity  300 lb
  • Medline steel drop arm commode, Prod. No. MDS89668, weight capacity 250 lb
  • Nova Drop arm transport commode chair, Prod. No. 8805, weight capacity 250 lb

Static drop arm transport commodes vs 3 in 1 commodes

The comparison is one of a 3 in 1 commode with drop arms with a standard 3 in 1 commode with fixed arms.

 

The 3 in 1 commode with drop arms would have the advantage of being accessible to –

 

  • wheelchair users
  • individuals who are bed bound and can’t stand who must transfer onto a bedside commode from the side
  • although not specifically designed for this reason, the drop arm version also has the advantage of allowing a caregiver to help with cleaning the user from the side, as the arm rest can be moved out of the way

 

Both types of commodes have the 3 standard functions, and other than the drop arm accessibility they are identical in all ways.

So, unless it is for a reason of greater side access for cleaning, the reason to get a static drop arm commode over a a standard 3 in 1 commode, is that you need it for side transfer for a loved one who cannot stand to sit on a bedside commode.

Drop arm transport, or rolling, commodes

Drop arm transport or rolling bedside commodes are mobile bedside commodes which have the drop arm feature.

They come in steel, aluminum and in a medical grade PVC for individuals who are immunocompromised.

 

The drop arm transport bedside commode can be used as –

  • a transport chair
  • a bedside commode
  • placed over the toilet

 

If you are using the commode over the toilet make sure that –

 

  • the commode has adjustable height legs, or if it is a fixed height
  • the seat of the commode is higher than the rim of your toilet bowl
  • there are no horizontal bars between the back legs which will stop you from being able to position the commode frame over the toilet

 

When your loved ones are using the commode make sure that the wheels are locked in position to avoid any accidents.

 

Typically standard transport bedside commodes in can be one of two types –

 

  • “attendant” transport commodes, which are pushed by a caregiver, and
  • “self-propelling” transport commodes have a wheelchair wheel at the back, and allow the user the independence of using the commode as a wheelchair themselves – the chairs do though also have handle at the back of the seat so the chair can also be pushed

 

I have though found no examples of the “self-propelled” drop arm transport commodes whatsoever, so I will not be including them here, only the “attendant” drop arm transport commodes.

Examples of Attendant drop arm transport bedside commodes are –

  

  • Nova drop arm transport commode, Prod. No. 8805, weight capacity 250 lb
  • Drive Medical drop arm commode with wheels with padded armrests, Prod. No. 11101W-2, weight capacity 300 lb
  • Lumex Versamode drop arm transport chair commode w/5 ” wheels, Prod. No. 6810A, weight capacity 300 lb
  • AMG Medical MedPro Euro commode with flip up arms, Pro. No. AMG 7703755, weight capacity 350 lb

Drop arm transport, or rolling, commodes vs 3 in 1 commodes

 

  • the drop arm transport commode allows for side transfer by wheelchair users and individuals who are bed bound, and a standard 3 in 1 commode does not
  • a drop arm transport bedside commode has wheels and is not static like a 3 in 1, so it obviously has a great advantage of you, or a caregiver, being able to  your loved one around the home
  • a 3 in 1 commode can only be of use to an individual who is somewhat mobile and can stand
  • the transport commodes come in ranges of models which support up to around 400 lb, so they certainly can’t handle the weight of some larger patients as a 3 in 1 commode can
  • for an individual who is bed-bound a transport commode allows them to be transported from room to room
  • there are a lot of transport commodes which fold, but set up is a bit more complicated to fold up than a 3 in 1 commode
  • the drop arm transport bedside commode has three functions – transport a person, bedside commode and raised toilet seat
  • the 3 in 1 can  be used as a bedside commode, a raised toilet seat, and as  a toilet safety rail, but can’t transport someone
  • the materials used are very similar for the two types of commode, but there is a lot more variation in the seating to be found on all types transport commodes, probably because they are very often used as a chair as well

 

Obviously, if you need a bedside commode which you want to be able to transport someone with, then you have to get a form of transport commode, and a 3 in 1 commode just can’t do that.

If you need a transport commode which allows side transfer, you will need a drop arm version.

Transport commodes, (and not shower transport commodes) are a few hundred dollars more than 3 in 1 commodes, due to the brakes and wheels.

 

Drop arm shower transport commodes

These are drop arm commodes which have been designed to used in the shower, and to transport the user – either with a caregiver pushing the chair in, or a self-propelled model.

There are quite a few self-propelled drop arm shower transport commodes, in comparison with drop arm transport commodes, where only the attendant models had drop arms.

Shower transport commodes are available in stainless steel, coated steel, aluminum alloy and medical grade PVC. 

These commodes won’t work if there is a lip, or step, to the shower of course, so bear that in mind.

As with the transfer bedside commode, lock the wheels when your loved one is using it in a static position.

The commode can be used as –

  • a shower chair
  • a transport chair
  • a bedside commode
  • some can be used over the toilet as a raised seat

The drop arm shower transport commode has both “attendant” models, and the “self-propelled models”. 

Examples of Attendant drop arm shower transport bedside commodes are –

 

  • Everest & Jennings Rehab Commode Shower Chair 5″ Casters, Prod. No.–, weight capacity 250 lb
  • Invacre Mariner Rehab Commode Shower Chair w/ 5″ Casters, Prod. No. 6891, weight capacity 300 lb
  • Mor Medical Euro Deluxe Commode Shower Chair 4″ Casters, Prod. No. MD-118-4TL, weight capacity 300 lb
  • Rebotec Dallas Bariatric Shower Commode Chair, Prod. No. TRE-359, weight capacity 440 lb
  • Tuffcare Heavy Duty Rolling Shower Commode Chair, Prod. No. S950, weight capacity 450 lb
  • Drive Bariatric Aluminum Rehab Shower Commode Chair, Prod. No. NRS185008, weight capacity 500 lb
  • Arjo carmina Bariatric Shower and Commode Chair, Prod. No. ARJ-BLB1000-013, weight capacity 705 lb

 Examples of Self-propelled drop arm shower transport bedside commodes are –

 

  • Drive Aluminum Rehab Commode Shower Chair 24″ Wheels, Prod. No. NRS185006, weight capacity 275 lb
  • Healthline EZee Life shower/ transport bedside commode w/ wheelchair wheels, Prod. No. 180 -24, weight capacity 300 lb
  • Invacare Mariner rehab shower/ bedside commode wheelchair (16″ x 16″), Prod. No. 6795, weight capacity 300 lb
  • Invacare Mariner rehab shower/ bedside commode wheelchair(18.5″ x 18.5″), Prod. No. 6895, weight capacity 300 lb
  • Nuprodx Multichair Ultra narrow shower commode wheelchair (drop arms optional), Prod. No. 4020RX, weight capacity 300 lb
  • Showerbuddy Roll-inBuddy Solo, shower commode wheelchair, prod. no. SB6w, weight capacity 300 lb
  • Invacare Aquatec Ocean Ergo self propelled shower/ bedside commode w/ wheelchair wheels, Prod. No. INV-OCEANERGOSP, weight capacity 330 lb
  • Tuffcare Bariatric shower commode wheelchair, Prod. No. S990, weight capacity 450 lb

Drop arm shower transport commodes vs 3 in 1 commodes

  • drop arm shower transport bedside commodes are mobile and not static like a 3 in 1 commode
  • drop arm shower transport bedside commodes are designed specifically for those individuals who need to side transfer onto the shower seat and transport commode, and who cannot stand to sit, which is the case with a standard 3 in 1 commode
  • drop arm shower transport bedside commodes allow for unobstructed caregiver access from the side which a standard 3 in 1 bedside does not
  • some models of drop arm shower transport bedside commodes require a caregiver who can push the user, and others are self-propelled
  • the user of a 3 in 1 commode is able to stand to sit on the commode and is also usually somewhat mobile – they are somewhat more autonomous
  • however obvious this may seem, drop arm shower transport bedside commodes are waterproof, and most 3 in 1 commodes are not, and as such only a special waterproof 3 in 1 commode can be used in the shower
  • as with the 3 in 1 commodes, the drop arm shower transport bedside commodes come in ranges of models which have greatly varying weight capacities, and some support as much as 705 lb – Arjo carmina bariatric shower and commode chair
  • like a 3 in 1 commode there are versions of the drop arm shower transport bedside commodes which fold, but it is rather more complicated and time consuming
  • the drop arm shower transport bedside commodes are a lot heavier than the 3 in 1 commodes
  • as with the drop arm transport bedside commode, the seating choices are far more varied than with the standard 3 in 1 commodes, but this is most likely due to the fact that these commodes are also used as chairs
  • the shower transport bedside commode has four functions – shower chair, transport chair, bedside commode and raised toilet seat
  • the 3 in 1 bedside commode has there function – bedside commode, raised toilet seat and toilet safety rail

 

The two types of bedside commode are versatile, just in different areas.

There is though a great difference in the area of price – the drop arm shower transport bedside commodes are a lot more expensive the a 3 in 1 commodes.

The self-propelled models can run into the thousands of dollars, whereas your average 3 in 1 commode is in the 100 to 200 dollar range – with the exception of some of the bariatric models of 3 in 1 commode which cost a bit more.

How to set up a drop arm commode, or a 3 in 1 commode, over a toilet over a toilet

To install the commode over a toilet –

  • remove the pale from the commode
  • put your toilet lid and seat in the upright position
  • adjust the height the legs of the commode so that they are tall enough to clear the rim of the toilet bowl
  • to adjust the length of the commode leg simply push the spring-loaded buttons in and adjust the length of the leg to that which you require – the button will make a load click when it pops out at the required height
  • all the legs should be the same length for stability and safety
  • the seat of the commode should not be so high that your loved one’s feet are dangling in the air – you want them touching the floor, otherwise this can cause people to fall when they try to stand up
  • position your commode over the toilet with the backrest against the upright seat and lid of the toilet
  • insert your commode splashguard under the commode seat – if you don’t have a large gap and you don’t want to use the splash guard you don’t have to
  • put the commode seat down and you are ready to use the commode as a raised toilet seat over your existing toilet

I’m Gareth and I’m the owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com

I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.

Gareth Williams

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Drop arm commode vs 3 in 1 commode
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I am going to compare drop arm commodes with 3 in 1 commodes, and discuss how to choose which is best for you in your unique situation.
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