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News archive - May 2018

In need of assistance?

In need of assistance?

When blinded by the latest innovations and technology in assisted bathing solutions; installing confidence can be a difficult task.

So, how do you select assisted bathing systems that are fit for purpose?

Essentially, assisted bathing equipment should enable rather than hinder.

Meeting the challenge

Whether the challenge is to acquire assisted bathing solutions for therapeutic functions; or to make light and dignified work of the practicalities of attending to personal hygiene; it has to work well in a demanding environment.

First and foremost it’s about maintaining personal hygiene, which is absolutely critical in maintaining health, welfare and avoiding infections.

Individuals receiving care will have some degree of functional mobility, and others will have a much-higher dependency due to less mobility. Either way, the products chosen must provide safe support, and the carers assisting with the ability to carry out their duties easily and safely without injury.

Helping with this process, assisted bathing products range from ergonomically-designed baths with high-low function, preventing the risk of caregiver back strain; to vertical-raise side entry doors allowing for easy access; and tilting functions allowing for a semi-reclined posture.

Ensuring maximum mobility, added assistive equipment such as transfer equipment, hoists and stretchers ensure maximum safety all at the touch of a button.

The evolution of technology

Whether incapacitated due to a critical condition, long-term illness, or obesity; individuals that cannot independently access the bathroom still require an effective personal hygiene routine.

Technology has developed so much beyond the old-fashioned bed bath and now offers bedside showering systems that provide uncompromising hygiene levels within the safety and comfort of an individual’s own bed.

A care provider has to be sure the service they offer will not be let down by sub-standard equipment.

Whether that is the durability and long-term reliability of the product, or assurances the product meets stringent quality standards and legal requirements.

It is easy to overlook the legal obligations of water regulations, which place duties on designers, installers and operators.

To comply with these, products must be of an ‘appropriate quality and standard’ and ‘suitable for the circumstances’ in which they are used.

Adequate backflow protection is required to prevent contamination of the water supply system.

In the case of bathing equipment in the healthcare environment, fluid category 5 protection will be required. This is the highest level of protection.

The right assurances

Also materials in taps, hoses etc must not cause contamination or promote microbial growth.

Without meeting these requirements you could risk contaminating the water supply system or a Legionella outbreak, either of which could lead to serious illness and even death.

To protect yourself, staff and service users; request evidence that products are compliant.

Products should have been tested against all appropriate standards and materials certified against BS 6920.

Better still, require products to have appropriate certification, such as WRAS Approval, which is one way to provide that assurance.

But you will need to check installation requirements to ensure they are suitable for you, for instance whether it incorporates the required backflow protection.

It’s worth noting that, without these assurances, a care provider may not be meeting its legal obligations under water regulations and the CQC’s requirements.

And failure to comply with water regulations could result in enforcement action or prosecution.

Manufacturer’s guarantees and warranties are important considerations.

An assisted bathing product in a care setting should be commercial grade, not domestic. The product should be able to withstand repeated daily use without materials and components becoming compromised.

In this case, specifically confirm whether the metal components are stainless or powder coated. That’s the difference between rusting and delamination of painted parts, which ruin the finish of the product and compromised safety and cleaning protocols components.

Asking questions

Many assisted bath-tubs are manufactured in the same way as a low-cost domestic tub would be - a plastic moulded tub that is simply re-enforced with a minimum amount of fiberglass.

This concept is lower cost and is unlikely to provide the same structural integrity and service life of a traditional handmade solid fiberglass and gel-coat construction.

Traditional handmade tubs are less likely to fade or discolour and can be refurbished and repaired if damaged.

This aspect should be a major consideration in the specification requirement because it negates high replacement costs in the event of accidental damage and vastly extends the products’ lifetime costs and profitability, especially for providers with a high number of appliance assets.

No one wants an out-of-order bathroom in a care home, so it is vital to ensure they are fit for purpose and designed and manufactured for industrial use.

From the core body of the product, to hidden components - quality is paramount.

Ask yourself, will the product last? Will it satisfy moving and handling needs? Is it safe and hygienic? Does it meet water regulations? And will it meet with the varied mobility and dependency needs of those in your care?

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