To stop a commode from tipping, you have a number of solutions –
- learn how to sit on the commode correctly, without jolting backwards to transfer to the commode
- learn how to use a walker to help to sit on the commode
- position the commode in a way that it cannot tip -wedge it in
- buy a “Derby corner commode” which fits into a corner in a way it cannot tip either sideways or to the back
Contents Overview & Quicklinks
- Properly positioning the commode without hazards
- Nighttime lighting
- Bed alarms or pagers
- Positioning the commode so that it cannot fall if it tips
- Purchase a Derby Corner Commode
Bedside commode weight limits
Bedside commodes weight capacities can range anywhere from 220 lb up to 1500 lb, depending on the model.
These specific weight capacities should not be exceeded, or the frame may break, as the user sits down, or while they are sitting on the bedside commode, and this could result in injury.
To make it easier to find the right weight capacity and the type of bedside commode that you need, I have put together a list of 140 bedside commodes, with their weight capacities, model product number and their exact model name.
These are organized by firstly by weight capacity, and within that, the different types of bedside commode which have models available at that weight capacity i.e. shower bedside commodes or static portable bedside commodes.
The weight groupings are as follows –
200 – 300 lb weight capacity
300 – 400 lb weight capacity
400 – 500 lb weight capacity
500 – 600 lb weight capacity
600 – 700 lb weight capacity
700 – 800 lb weight capacity
800 – 900 lb weight capacity
1000 lb weight capacity
1500 lb weight capacity
You can find the list here, “Bedside Commode Weight Capacity: A Guide With Over 140 Examples and Illustrations”.
If you are a little confused by all the different types of bedside commodes, and what they might be used for, you can take a look at this other article about the different types, and how to identify which one you need – “Bedside Commodes: How To Make The Right Choice ?”
Setting up a bedside commode in a safe space
One reason that a person may be having problems with a commode tipping is that they are not confident about sitting on the commode due to balance, mobility or frailty issues.
To help build the user’s confidence, you need to set up the bedside commode in a space with the priority on safety.
Properly positioning the commode without hazards
Remove any hazards around the commode which may cause tripping, or just make access difficult. If your elderly loved one is already nervous about backing up and sitting on this strange new toilet, you don’t want to make them even more hesitant by placing all kinds of objects in the way – keep their vision clear of extra stuff, as it will make things more confusing.
If your loved one is using the commode at night, and in a hurry to get onto it, you don’t want them in a daze to forget to turn the light on, and as a result to have them stumbling around in the dark.
You can either use a nightlight, or much better a light with a remote sensor, so that the minute your loved one’s movements will trigger a light to come on, and there will be no danger of falling due to lack of a light.
Bed alarms or pagers
This is particularly for the nighttime, if you want to know when your loved one is getting up to use the commode so that you can give assistance, there are a whole range of alarms and pagers that will signal to you to know when they are getting up.
I have a long guide to the different bed sensor pads with exit alarms or wireless monitors, chair sensor pads with exit alarms or wireless monitors, floor pressure sensor mats with exit alarms or wireless monitors, motion sensors with bed exit alarms or wireless monitors, motion sensors with pagers, and also baby monitors, all of which can be used to alert you. So if you want to look at how you can do this, the article is here.
Positioning the commode so that it cannot fall if it tips
A person will also gain a world of confidence if they realize that even if they rock the commode when they sit on it, it can’t go anywhere.
This can be achieved by placing the commode with its back side against a wall, and placing two tall pieces of furniture on either side.
You may be able to use the bed also as one of these pieces of furniture.
If you have to you can get pipe fixings which can be fixed in the wall, and then fixed to the tubular legs and back of the commode – this will not budge an inch if done properly.
Purchase a Derby Corner Commode
As I said in the introduction, there is a bedside commode called the Derby Corner Commode which is designed to be placed into a corner, and which by virtue of its design cannot tip over due to the two walls supporting it on the two sides.
Derby Corner Commode
To really make using a bedside commode safe for someone post surgery, or for a person who is frail and has mobility, strength or balance issues, the most important point is that they need to be taught how to sit on a bedside commode.
While you are looking for bedside commodes, there is lots more that you can do to make your bathroom a safer place for seniors, or anyone else with mobility issues.
To find out all the different things you can do, to have an instant impact on bathroom safety, take a look here, “54 Bathroom Safety Tips For Seniors – A Helpful Guide”.
How to transfer to a bedside commode ?
It’s best to use a walker for anyone with balance, mobility or frailty issues, so that they don’t fall as they go back, and so that they have something to hold onto at all times for stability.
As they reach back, one hand at a time, to grip the armrests of the bedside commode for sitting down, and then also when they stand up holding the walker one hand at a time, the walker will keep them more stable.
How to sit down on a bedside commode –
- slowly back up to the commode holding onto, and displacing the walker, as you go the walker
- stop once you feel the commode lightly touching against the back of your legs
- keeping one hand on the walker lower any clothing, or have if you are assisting, lower the clothing for them
- reach back for the armrest with the hand on the same side of the commode, and then reach back for the other armrest with the hand on that side – do this one hand at a time
- firmly gripping the armrests sit back slowly lowering yourself onto the seat of the commode
- if you are holding firmly onto the commode armrests you should be able to lower yourself without crashing back into the seat causing a tipping of the commode
How to stand up from a bedside commode –
- have a walker placed in front of the commode to hold onto before you stand up
- edge forwards on the seat to the front so that your feet are solidly planted on the floor
- place both hands on the commode armrests and push up to stand
- standing with one had holding onto the commode armrest, reach the other hand forward and take a hold of the walker, then do the same with your other hand
- use one hand to pull up any clothes, or have a caregiver assist with the clothes
You should always have the commode seat set high enough that the feet are still touching the floor when they are sitting on it.
When feet don’t touch the floor properly and dangle in the air, accidents tend to happen.
If your loved one is unable to sit on the commode on their own without risking injury, you really should always have someone to assist them.
After transferring a person to a bedside commode, what should you do ?
Once your loved one is sitting on the commode, so that they can preserve a little of their dignity, it is nice to give them some privacy and leave the room until they require assistance.
You can give them a small bell to ring, or buy a paging device which they can press, and you will wear the receiver/pager which will ring to let you know they are ready to be helped again.
Smart Caregiver make a whole range of call buttons and pagers, and they are mentioned in my article on bed alarms, which you can find here.
How to give assistance with cleaning after using the bedside commode ?
Certain bedside commodes have seat openings at the front, or back, which are designed to help the user with wiping, but even this may not be enough if your loved one is frail, or unable to reach – if they are elderly they may not be flexible enough, so you may have to assist.
To help your loved one if they can’t clean themselves –
- you must have all supplies prepared and to hand as you can’t leave an elderly loved waiting as they could catch cold, and it isn’t exactly very dignified for them
- you should start by putting on your disposable gloves – do not use more than once as it could cause the spread of infection
- have your loved one stand holding onto the walker – if they have clothing around their feet be very careful as it could cause them to trip
- clean your loved one with toilet paper or wipes
- clean from front to back to prevent UTI’s if your loved one is a woman
- have a dry towel ready for your loved one if they need to be dried off
- you should always have your loved clean their hands in a little soap and water
- put your loved one’s clothes back on, or pull them up, depending on whether their bottoms were totally removed or just dropped to their feet when they sat down
- assist them back to where they were before they used the commode
- get rid of all the used toilet paper and wet wipes immediately to stop odors from lingering in the room – put all the rubbish in your trash outside immediately
- finally, remove your disposable gloves and throw those into the outside trash as well
- you should wash your hands with soap and water each time, as this helps your loved one to stay clean as well
Bathroom supplies you will need to clean your loved one after using the commode ?
You are going to have to hand the following supplies for your loved one’s personal hygiene after using a bedside commode –
- toilet paper
- wet wipes
- awash cloth
- a dry towel
- a change of underwear
- a change of incontinence underwear if used
- trash bag for all the refuse
- a fresh commode liner if you are using them – never use a liner twice, it will spread bacteria and infections quickly
- a container with warm water
If you are assisting your loved one in their wiping, you should have some type of latex or rubber gloves to wear yourself.
One other item that you may need is a some form of mat protection. There are quite a few options to choose from, and you can read about it here – “Floor Protection For Bedside Commodes”.
How to empty a bedside commode ?
The bedside commode should be emptied every time it is used.
The first thing to do is to have some kind of overall that you wear for the job, as well as for the cleaning of the commode and the surrounding area. If you do this, these will be the only items of clothing which can get bacteria on them, and good hygiene is easier to maintain.
You also want to be wearing disposable gloves that you throw away in the outside trash each time.
It is also a good idea to have your cleaning equipment and products all in the same place as you do the cleaning, and you won’t be looking for things while you are wearing dirty gloves etc.
Using commode liners with absorbent pads or gel –
If you are using a plastic commode liner and absorbent gels or pads, you take the liner, tie it or seal it, depending on the brand you have, and put it into your landfill trash outside – the pads and gels absorb the liquids making it possible to put everything in the trash.
Any toilet paper can be put down the toilet, but wipes and anything else must go into the outside trash.
The bucket should be clean, but give it a quick spray and wipe with some disinfectant, then some water, and it is ready for the next liner to be put on it.
You should really give the seat of the commode a quick clean as well.
Using commode liners without absorbent pads or gel –
You can also use a liner over the bucket without the absorbent pads or gels, and then toss the contents down the toilet, rinse the liner a few times and then dispose of it in the trash.
Get the bucket out of the commode as soon as it has been used, pop the lid on it, and then get it down the toilet as quickly as possible.
Never re-use a commode liner as this can spread bacteria very quickly, causing infections.
The reason for using the liner is that it stops the bucket getting filthy, but you do have to dump everything down the toilet.
There is one trick that will help suppress the odors when you are using a liner without gel or pads, and that is to put 2-3 inches of water in the commode prior to its use.
Along with this you can put some Poo Pourri, or a nice smelling essential oil which both help to keep the odors from being released from the water will mask them with scent.
Using the commode bucket without any liners
If you are not using a liner over the commode bucket, you should again put 2-3 inches of water in the bottom before it is used. As I said in the previous section, you can add a few drops of essential oil or a product like Poo Pourri to try to inhibit the release of any bad odors.
Take the commode bucket and empty it straight away into the toilet and give it a good thorough rinse.
The cleaning of the bucket is best done in 3 stages –
Soaking – put the bucket in hot water to soften up anything that is stuck to the pale – 2-3 minutes.
Cleaning – clean away any feces and urine which are stuck to the pale with a non-abrasive cleaner and a non-abrasive sponge or brush, and then rinse the bucket with water.
Disinfecting – do it all again, this time using disinfectant.
If your commode bucket is plastic it is a good idea to soak it for a couple of hours in a disinfectant – this will require a few replacement buckets, but it will kill all the bacteria if it is done regularly, and this will help to reduce the odors that the bucket will absorb and hold onto.
Bedside Commode Liners
If you need to learn more about disposable commode liners I have an article “How to dispose of bedside commode liners” in which you will learn about the different types, the well known brands, how to buy them in bulk, how to use them and how to best dispose of them, and if you want to try, how to make your own. You can find that article here.
Can a bedside commode be used over a toilet ?
A bedside commode can be used over a toilet in the bathroom and requires no clean up, which reduces the chances of infections from bacteria in the bedroom.
Using a bedside commode over a toilet –
- lift the seat and remove the bucket from the bedside commode
- on your bathroom toilet, put the seat and lid in their upright positions
- adjust the height of the commode legs to make sure that it is raised above the height of the toilet bowl rim
- to do this you depress the push buttons and pull or push to lengthen, or shorten, the legs of the commode
- be sure to have the legs all the same length
- make sure that the commode is not so high that the user’s feet are not firmly on the floor when they are seated on the commode
- place the commode in position over the toilet
- lift the bedside commode seat and place the splash guard under the seat
- bedside commodes with wheels need to have the wheels locked when they are used over a toilet
If you want to learn more about bedside commodes, and how to use them, you can read it all here – “Using a bedside commode: An illustrated guide”
I’m Gareth, the author and owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com
I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.