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News archive - July 2015
How can I assist you?
Whether someone is being looked after in a care or nursing facility, in hospital, or with support in their own home, ensuring they have somewhere safe to wash and bathe is vital.
Older and more-vulnerable people can find the average bathroom layout impossible to navigate and they need highly-specialist equipment to help them.
This has led to the creation of a number of dedicated assisted bathing ranges, which feature everything from hoists and powered lifts to accessible baths, showers and wetrooms.
“As a critical element of the daily routine in any care setting, assisted bathing solutions deliver enhanced comfort for users and ensure care professionals can offer the right level of care while minimising any potential risk of back injury,” explains Gordon Farmiloe, managing director of Gainsborough Specialist Bathing.
Hi-lo and adjustable-height baths are particularly popular in care home settings as the whole unit can be raised or lowered to aid the carer and ensure easier access for the user. Many of these models also feature powered transfer seats that lift the person into and out of the bath, minimising the requirement for manual handling.
When designing assisted bathrooms, and the equipment that will go into them, health and care operators are driven largely by budget constraints, but increasingly they are also demanding manufacturers pay attention to other key areas, namely infection control and ease of cleaning; ergonomics; and regulatory compliance.
“As care levels differ for residents, this has driven the development of different styles of baths with a variety of alternative specifications,” said Farmiloe.
“The product must assist with safe working practices for carers, and the bather’s experience must promote a sense of security and reassurance through appropriate safety and operational systems.”
To aid with infection control, surfaces must be durable, impermeable and easy to clean. Equipment must also comply with Water Supply Regulations, preventing waste, misuse, undue consumption or contamination of the water supply and ensuring products are of an appropriate quality and standard.
To further protect users, many ranges now boast temperature controls, not only governing the temperature of the water itself, but also the equipment.
Barbara Osborne, product manager at Methven UK, said: “Elderly people have thinner skin and are therefore more susceptible to burns. They can benefit from cool-to-touch bar technology, which ensures the temperature of the bar shower itself never exceeds that of the mixed water.”
Thermostatically-controlled products maintain pre-set temperatures, even if the water pressure varies when other appliances are used.
“Once installed and maintained correctly, they can significantly reduce the risk of scalding,” said Osborne.
Other features increasingly being introduced include chromotherapy lighting to visually enhance the bathing experience; massaging equipment; and even Bluetooth-enabled systems. Transfer chairs and hoists are also being made more mobile so they can be taken outside of the bathroom environment.
Mira Showers has recently added a wireless controller - the Vision Flex - to its range, enabling people to turn the water on and off from any location.
“Safely outside the shower, users can programme functions such as the maximum temperature and flow rate, or select its warm-up mode and eco mode,” said a spokesman.
It is expected these user experience benefits will continue to drive innovation in the field into the future.
Gainsborough recently installed some of its baths at the new 66-bed Mistley Manor care home in Manningtree, Essex.
Ascot hi-lo baths were used in the main building complex, offering powered transfer seats, but having a smaller footprint, so maximising bathroom space and allowing sufficient access for carers.
In the four independent living bungalows on the site, Windsor baths were chosen as they lift, rotate and lower the bather without the need for manual assistance.
Commenting on the need for specialist equipment, Jacqui Volf, Mistley Manor’s owner, said: “Not only do these baths reduce manual handling risks for carers, the Windsor bath delivers greater independence for residents in our bungalows, which is critically important for their long-term wellbeing.”
And Prism Medical UK has just launched its complete range of assisted baths designed specifically for long-term and acute care environments. Product specialist, Andrew Norris, said: “We are extremely excited about adding the new baths to our range of moving, handling, and bathing products. It signals our firm intent to provide the highest-quality assisted baths, while at the same time ultimately saving the healthcare system money.”
Farmiloe added: “It is becoming more evident that key decision-makers within the health and ccare arena are searching for specialist suppliers with a high level of expertise in assisted bathing.
“Suppliers with a wide range of bathing solutions allowing greater choice and who offer an end-to-end service from concept to full aftercare are also becoming highly sought after.”