Designed for dementia: Specialist bathing that makes a difference

Long-term care facilities have an increasing need for specialist bathing solutions that deliver appropriate support and cost-effective performance.

The need for Dementia care continues to grow at pace. Long-term care facilities have an increasing need for specialist bathing solutions that deliver appropriate support and cost-effective performance. Our new power assisted baths provide the answer.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are approximately 850,000 individuals living with Dementia in the UK, a third of which reside in residential care or nursing homes. The overall number is likely to exceed one million by 2025 and latest predictions estimate this will soar to two million by 2051 – resulting in a greater demand for specialist Dementia care units.

Being able to provide appropriate and effective bathing solutions for larger numbers of Dementia patients is a real challenge for healthcare providers. Baths must have the capability to deliver utmost care and dignity whilst helping carers to operate in a safe working environment. Reducing moving and handling risks is critical so that carers and vulnerable bathers are protected from injury. With the rising cost of care regularly highlighted in the press, specialist baths need to also provide operational efficiencies so that care and nursing homes can maintain viable businesses. With reduced running costs and greater equipment ‘life value’, healthcare providers can continue to deliver quality care at a fair fee whilst ensuring sustainability and future growth.

Gainsborough Specialist Bathrooms has been the proven and trusted leader in assistive bathing solutions for over 30 years. It provides a comprehensive range of baths that includes electrically operated hi-lo functionality, bather transfer systems and a multitude of specialist features focused on the needs of disabled bathers and carers.

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Accessible baths such as the new Gentona and reclining Sentes encompass pioneering ergonomics and functionality that reduce risk and maximize comfort. Each bath has been intelligently designed to lower utility costs and shorten bath cycle times so that more service users can be bathed in less time. These performance enhancements are critical in high-traffic care environments where multiple user baths are constantly in operation. Gainsborough continues to be regarded as ‘thought leaders’ in Dementia bathing with an intensive R&D programme that involves therapists, end users and specifiers. Together these dedicated professionals continue to enhance their knowledge of Dementia so that equipment evolves to meet current and future challenges.

Bathing service users with Dementia can be one of the most challenging activities that carers may face. It is essential that personal care is delivered in a sensitive and dignified manner. However as the act of bathing is an intimate experience, many with Alzheimer’s and other Dementias may perceive it to be unpleasant.

Commonly residents can resist being bathed due to reduced patience or increased unfamiliarity with the process through memory loss. There are also other issues that can cause distress including the fear of falls, feeling cold and having to endure a lack of modesty. Losing privacy is very difficult for many people irrespective of whether they live with a medical condition or not. Having to rely on a carer to maintain personal hygiene can be frustrating for many service users who struggle with a loss of independence. Increased skin sensitivity to changes in temperature and pressure are also common with Dementia patients so controlling the warmth and depth of bath water is imperative.

These factors have all been considered in detail by Gainsborough so that its latest power assisted baths provide a more pleasant bathing experience. Anxiety, confusion and stress can be reduced for service users when bathing with a Gainsborough product. The process of getting in and out of the bath is controlled and straightforward with a powered transfer seat that moves smoothly and is whisper quiet. Changing and drying processes can also be performed more easily so users remain comfortable and warm. A range of sensory features can be integrated into each bath to relax the bather including Hydrotherapy, Chromatherapy and music. These stimulating elements can improve bather mood and encourage engagement with carers so ultimately bathing is regarded as an enjoyable event.

In the case of the Gentona, the bather transfer seat can be specified as a detachable solution that works in unison with a transit trolley. This means onwards transfers are seamless which reduces stress for Dementia patients and ensure hygiene procedures can be completed efficiently by carers. Additional reassurance can be given to Dementia service users when bathing through the insertion of a removable footboard. This ergonomic footboard is available on the 1700mm Gentona and has two positions which can provide more space appropriate bathing for smaller users.

Protecting carers from undue moving and handling risk is also key. Bathing service users that are semi or non-ambulant is a procedure that must be carefully risk assessed at all times and without suitable equipment, can result in carer injury. Manual lifting, lowering and transferring of service users can lead to musculoskeletal problems and resultant staff sickness. This continues to be a major factor in today’s demanding care environment – resulting in detrimental effects on service delivery and quality of care.

However, with effective powered baths that provide variable height and bather transfer systems, carers can move clients safely and provide more attentive levels of care and engagement. Potential back strain is also eliminated when administering personal care as baths can be raised to a safe working height negating the need to bend or stoop. Vital eye level contact between carer and bather is also easier when operating in this position so Dementia patients feel more reassured.

Bathing solutions from Gainsborough continue to advance levels of specialist care across the UK. Many LTC establishments are benefiting from cost and care-related advantages, none more so than the new The Marbrook Centre in Cambridgeshire. The Marbrook Centre is a purpose-built, specialist neurological and Dementia care centre with 81 beds for service users with Acquired Brain Injury, Spinal Injury, Stroke and Dementia. Several Gainsborough baths have been instrumental in helping The Marbrook Centre provide safe and dignified bathing that is perceived by many residents as a daily highlight.

Head of Care Pathways at Marbrook, Robert Myers explains: “We believe assisted bathing provides multiple rehabilitation benefits to our residents and can be for some, a far more pleasurable option than showering in an accessible wet room. The simple fact that the Gainsborough baths and water are raised up and over the bather as opposed to the bather being lowered into water is an important psychological feature I would say. Moving and handling risk is minimised for both carer and bather through the hi-lo adjustment of each bath. The powered transfer seats can be detached to provide onward transit chairs. This provides a smooth and efficient transfer from bathroom to bedroom and eliminates the need to invest in ceiling track or mobile hoists.”

Robert adds: “Functions such as Chromatherapy and Air Spa enhance residents’ experience so that bathing sessions are both relaxing yet stimulating and help promote engagement with their key carers. Each Gainsborough bath adds to our ethos of providing unsurpassed care with meaningful activity here at Marbrook.”

Gainsborough is focused on ensuring its products remain at the forefront of assistive technology – both in terms of care provision and economic performance. Product features such as key hole bathing spaces, depth indicators, Auto-fill and TMV3 temperature controlled water all contribute to reduced water and energy consumption whilst ensuring utmost safety and comfort for bathers. Bath components are continually being consolidated across the product range so maintenance and servicing becomes more efficient with less down time. High performing products with trustworthy durability and reliability deliver results both from a commercial and ethical point of view.

In terms of future bath development Gordon Farmiloe, Managing Director, Gainsborough Specialist Bathrooms concludes: ‘We envisage healthcare providers will increasingly focus on providing better Dementia care and greater safety for carers whilst reducing operational costs through procurement of more efficient equipment. Our latest range of future proof bathing solutions will meet these challenging demands through pioneering design and engineering that is at the forefront of innovation. As an established UK-based manufacturer, we are able to continue supplying solutions that are not adversely affected by current market changes so healthcare providers can be reassured of continued product quality and value. Designing for Dementia is at the heart of Gainsborough R&D and our vision is to deliver more sophisticated and varied bathing features that continue to deliver tangible results.”