By Jason Ashman, managing director of Reval Continuing Care.
When choosing sanitaryware for your care home there are many requirements to consider, but beware if price is driving your decision.
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. 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 maintaining personal hygiene, absolutely critical in maintaining health, welfare and avoiding infections, the CQC’s Regulation 12: Safe care and treatment states “Providers must assess the risks to people’s health and safety during any care or treatment and make sure that staff have the qualifications, competence, skills and experience to keep people safe.
“…Providers must prevent and control the spread of infection. Where the responsibility for care and treatment is shared, care planning must be timely to maintain people’s health, safety and welfare.”
Assisted bathing products must comply with the regulations, 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.
There’s no question there are assisted bathing products on the market that can tackle personal hygiene requirements safely and effectively, but what about those all-important assurances?
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 for bathing equipment in the healthcare environment, fluid category 5 protection will be required. This is the highest level of protection. 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 worst-case, death.
Protect yourself, staff and service users and request evidence that products are compliant. Products should have been tested against all appropriate standards and materials certified against BS 6920. Better still request 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 without these assurances the care provider may not be meeting their legal obligations under water regulations and the CQC’s requirements. 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. 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.
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. Ensure yours is fit for purpose and designed and manufactured for industrial use. From the core body of the product to those 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?