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News - September 2018

Help is at hand

Help is at hand

A key consideration when designing care homes are bathroom facilities.

Good construction and design will enable carers to provide a better service at the same time as reducing the risk of injury to residents and staff.

With this in mind, the specification of easy-access baths has become increasingly commonplace in recent years - helping to improve duty of care, operational efficiencies and infection control.

The practical purpose for specifying assisted baths should be to facilitate personal hygiene, provide therapeutic value, and aid pain relief.

Compliance features including grab bars, roll-in or hoist accessibility, and overall bathroom layout should also be taken into consideration.

Speaking to hdm; Peter Eckhardt, managing director at Gainsborough Specialist Bathing, explains: “For us, it’s not just about creating a visually-appealing care bath, but providing a well-designed solution that enhances the whole bathing experience.

“We believe in balancing form and function so that safety, care and dignity are maximised.”

Safety first

Safety is first and foremost when designing the latest solutions, he added.

“Accessible bathing in care homes is firstly about making sure the transfer into the bath is comfortable for both the resident and the carer,” Eckhardt said.

“Many of our baths, such as the Gentona, have a built-in bather transfer seat which provides electrically-powered and controlled movement up, around, and into the bath.

“All mechanical aspects are diligently considered during R&D so that operation is smooth and jerk-free.

“Whisper-quiet operation is also imperative especially for residents or patients who are sensitive to noise, such as those with dementia.”

Creating baths with power-assisted movement is just as important for carers as it is for residents.

“Retention of staff is a key issue for all care homes,” said Eckhardt.

“Our hi-lo baths mean staff can stand up to provide care rather than having to bend.

“They can then administer personal care at safe working heights, resulting in less potential sick leave.”

When specifying a product, the first check is that it has a CE marking, in this case to standard EEC93/42; and that manufacturers are registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as makers of ‘Class 1 Medical Devices’.

Legal protection

EU regulations state that products must be clearly marked with CE I notices and that copies of certificates of compliance and regulation are kept on file.

If you are installing baths that are supplied ready fitted with taps, showers and other water control fittings; the products should also be WRAS approved and supplied with a registration number.

Reval Continuing Care is a pioneer of intelligent water controls which enable an appliance to self clean and disinfect automatically.

This ensures water is cleaner and safer while reducing waste.

Also key to the design of the latest generation of accessible baths is infection control.

Gainsborough baths have Biocote as a standard feature built into the resin. This protection remains for the lifetime of the product.

“For us as pioneering specialists, it’s about being pro-active, not just reactionary, when it comes to infection control,” said Eckhardt.

“We have taken the lead so care homes and hospitals can reduce cross contamination, optimise cleaning routines, and ultimately comply with CQC targets.

“Apply these benefits across a care home group with several sites and the potential savings are huge.

“This is really important as it means staff can spend more time providing care.”

Gainsborough is also seeing increased interest in models that help to cut down on water use. Its Gentona bath, for example, has been proven to lower usage and the associated electric and gas required for heating by 20%.

In addition, many care homes are opting for additional features such as chromotherapy - the use of coloured lighting to enhance the user experience - and built-in wireless sound systems.

Integrated hydrotherapy jets are also popular, offering targeted muscle group stimulation.

“There is no hard and fast rule for assisted bathing products,” said Eckhardt. “But we always primarily focus on the needs of the bather - delivering life-enhancing bathing.”

Quality of life

The Reval spokesman added: “What often gets overlooked is the fact there are many psychological and physiological effects of bathing that can aid a patient or resident’s wellbeing and quality of life.

“The market is stepping away from standard clinical bathroom settings to an environment that instead focuses on spa therapy bathrooms and each patient or resident’s individual needs.”

And he said that in one care home where its Smart bathing technology has been installed, the need for night medication had stopped for two residents. Another reported that a resident with behavioural issues who kept banging his head stopped after having regular spa bath sessions.

“Generally speaking the bathing process can be unpleasant and undignified, depending on the environment and the appliances used.

“Our aim is to transform the bathing environment and experience so that residents then look forward to a warm relaxing bathing experience.

“Regular and effective hygiene and rehabilitation is delivered, which promotes mobility, wellbeing, and independence for residents.”

Ergonomics come into play, too, with increased interest in baths with retractable doors, such as the Grandiose from Care-home Bathing.

The shape of the bathtub makes it accessible without the person having to step over the side.

They are positioned directly into the bathing position and the door closes automatically.

The user experience

The company also has a ‘cocoon’ design which offers complete immersion in a lying position; and the Rejuvenate ‘technical bath’ which is a larger model designed to be used with transfer systems.

Mike Jenkins, director of Carehome Bathing, said: “The key factor in setting up and using this type of bathtub is humanisation - making the bathing experience easier, more enjoyable, and something to look forward to.

“The aim is to help the resident enjoy a higher quality of life while making the work of the staff less dangerous and arduous, which directly contributes a higher level of respect to the resident.”

He added that therapeutic bath tubs have a ‘direct impact’ on the severe fatigue experienced by people with dementia, who require less ambulatory care as a result.

And, with palliative care, they can also help to reduce pain.

“Life expectancy is rapidly improving, making it possible for older people to remain at home or in their communities for longer,” he said.

“We all understand the extra support and nursing care needed, but it also requires increased use of assisted systems such as bathing and transfer devices.

“Bathing is not only the act of washing. Taking a hot bath has a lot of benefits including pain relief, enhanced mobility, reduction of symptoms in skin disease, as well as improved psychological wellbeing.

“Accessible bathtubs offer a large range of integrated natural therapies to make daily hygiene routines an efficient and relaxing time for everybody.”

Offering advice to specifiers looking to install the latest products, the Reval spokesman said: “Choose your suppliers carefully and do not buy on price alone. Insist on meeting the companies face to face and evaluate the quality of their offering.

“Safety is a paramount consideration, so evaluate appliance lifetime costs and consider warranty periods. It’s also wise to obtain testimonials and references.

“There is so much you can achieve when you chose the right product and manufacturer.”

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