I’ve been an occupational therapist for over 18 years and have always worked with people in their own homes.
Home to me, is more than a building, more than an address or a postcode. Home can be a feeling: peace, safety, comfort, a sense of self and part of an identity. So if those feelings we may take for granted are interrupted by a change in our ability to carry out essential activities in the home, it can turn that safe space into something more challenging.
Being able to use a toilet and carry out all the intrinsic functions associated with toileting may be a task we may take for granted when at home. A disability, injury or illness could affect a person’s ability to get on and off the toilet seat, independently flush the toilet and attend to hygiene needs. Just pause for a moment and analyse the activity of using a toilet. The cognition (memory sequencing), dexterity (grip, movement of fingers, arms, shoulders) as well as balance and coordination required, is multiple and complex. If any one of those things is an effort, then the ability to use a toilet can be affected.
Fortunately there is a solution. Wash/Dry toilets have been around since the 1950’s and are often sold as a luxury item in Asia. However, there are also wash dry toilets that are designed and manufactured with people with disabilities in mind. These toilets can be adapted to suit the needs of the person using them and are intended to be utilised with equipment such as shower/commode chairs, hoists, assistive lifting devices and rails. The flushing mechanism can be controlled in various ways, from an infra-red sensor to a pressure sensitive pad able to be used with the fingers, fist or foot depending on the ability of the user. There are enormous advantages to a toilet that washes and dries intimate areas. It allows dignity in toilet use, frees up carer time and may also reduce the risk of moisture lesions developing as the area is fully dried.
There are a number of wash dry toilets and other equipment that can wash and dry that can be fitted to a toilet. It is recommended that you have an assessment by an occupational therapist who can assess your ability and work with you to ensure you have the right product. It may be overwhelming when researching the options, but choosing a reliable manufacturer whose product has WRAS approval (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) and timely breakdown and service cover is essential.
So with the right equipment, home can continue to be that safe, comfortable place it should be.