We look at the key product features that are available to care providers when bathing elderly and disabled residents.

What are the key product features available to assist care providers when bathing elderly and disabled residents?

There is an array of specialist equipment designed for assisted bathing areas in care homes and hospitals. These can range from hi-lo powered baths with or without transfer seats through to accessible showers and wet rooms with level access.

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. Hi-lo baths such as the Gentona hi-lo bath from Gainsborough Specialist Bathrooms include variable height adjustment so carers can bathe residents at a safe, comfortable working height. This type of bath also includes a powered transfer seat that lifts and lowers bathers in and out of the bath, minimising any requirement for manual handling.

Gainsborough’s baths include a multitude of specialist features to maximise comfort and ensure a relaxed, safe and comfortable environment is provided for all bathers. These features include TMV3 controls to maintain a safe pre-set water temperature to eliminate any risk of scalding; chromotherapy lighting to visually enhance the bather’s experience; air spa to gently massage the bather; Bluetooth enabled systems for added bather ambiance and also detachable transfer chairs to assist with onward transfers for the bather.

What are the important considerations for healthcare operators and facilities managers when trying to make bathrooms fit for purpose?

It is becoming more evident that key decision makers within the healthcare 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. With nearly thirty years experience, Gainsborough is able to provide a comprehensive package of support beginning with detailed site surveys and room design, through to full product aftercare and maintenance. Care providers are looking for both clinical and practical guidance when selecting products to ensure the most suitable baths are identified and installed for the care provision required. Our product specialists consider and take into account any constraints regarding building construction and the transfer requirements. We then evaluate the clinical needs of residents and care procedures through a rigorous process to ascertain the most appropriate solution, both in terms of the product functionality and optimising the finished bathroom layout.

Gainsborough is also in the unique position to be able to offer a complimentary 3D bathroom design service which provides detailed scaled plan drawings and 3D visual representations of the finished bathroom installation. This allows our designers and technicians to work with clients to ensure maximum accessibility within the bathroom area. This can also take into account the requirements for wheelchair access and hoisting equipment which otherwise may not be considered at planning stages.

What issues and drivers have steered the design of these items (ie infection control, ease of use etc)?

There are many factors that influence effective bathroom layout design. Aside from budget and cost constraints, this can include ergonomic considerations, infection control 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.

Ergonomic considerations need to be taken into account as a power-assisted bath needs to be safe and comfortable for both carers and the bathers. The product must assist with safe working practices for carers so that moving and handling risks are minimised and easy-to-use controls are available. The bather’s experience with a bathing solution must promote a sense of security and reassurance through appropriate safety systems, smooth movement and whisper-quiet operation mechanism.

Infection control continues to be a key design consideration with assistive baths. Surfaces must be durable, impermeable and easy to clean to eliminate the build-up of potentially harmful bacteria that would cause cross-infection. Gainsborough continues to focus intensively on its research and development to ensure its baths incorporate the latest technology to minimise infection risk.

WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) compliance is another key factor to consider during the specification of specialist baths in any healthcare setting. This ensures conformity with Water Supply Regulations preventing waste, misuse, undue consumption or contamination of the water supply and ensures that they are of an appropriate quality and standard. Only a bath that is WRAS approved or has WRAS compliant components will meet these legal and regulatory requirements.

How do you think solutions are likely to evolve in the next few years?

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, by 2025, the number of people living with Dementia in the UK is likely to exceed one million. Currently, there are 850,000 individuals with the condition, a third of which reside in residential care or nursing homes. As the demand for Dementia care continues to grow, it is essential that the condition is better understood by equipment manufacturers so appropriate product innovations can take place. Gainsborough works closely with care providers, specifiers and end users in the healthcare sector to ensure the design of its baths, showers and transfer equipment remain at the forefront of Dementia care.

We envisage this sector-wide focus on Dementia will result in an increased demand for specialist baths with therapeutic features that improve resident well-being. Features such as hydrotherapy and chromotherapy can enhance the bathing experience creating a comfortable, relaxing environment for the user. The provision of soothing music through Bluetooth® sound systems can also provide added ambience and help bathers to better relax. Gainsborough believe these specialist options will become more sophisticated and varied over the next few years as they are proven to deliver important benefits.