If you ask Karl van Gool which fixture in his home he values more than any other, he’d say it was his toilet.
“The independence it has given me! I can go to the loo without my wife having to help me. It’s the most wonderful thing we have had put into our home,” he says.
Karl is referring to his Closomat Palma Vita wash & dry (automatic bidet) WC, installed at the family’s Halesowen home at his request. Looking like, and capable of being used as a conventional toilet, the Closomat has built-in washing and drying, so if preferred or required, the user doesn’t have to wipe- or be wiped clean- with toilet tissue. The Closomat is only one of several daily living aids at the family’s bungalow, purpose-built for disabled habitation.
“I was visiting a friend, in part through my involvement with the local Disability in Action group, and he had one. I thought it was a brilliant piece of kit, so asked if we could have one too. It’s beautiful,” he says. “Now I can ‘go’ on my own.”
Karl became disabled in 1989, after he had an accident a work. He slipped a disc as a result, then during medical treatment, a needle was incorrectly inserted into his back, damaging the nerves. As a result, he can no longer stand.
The family was already used to disability: his son Matthew is undiagnosed but has symptoms similar to cerebral ataxia. The family was told when Matthew was a baby that he wouldn’t survive beyond his fifth birthday. He is now 30, blind, with no lower limb feeling and limited upper limb sensation.
“We all use the Closomat. My wife has to help Matthew get on and off, but that’s all she needs to do now. It’s made her life so much nicer,” adds Karl.