The debate about the use of technology in healthcare is progressing, with an over-riding query being how to use it, well?
Inevitably the focus is on smart technology, going paperless, digital communication. What about technology’s use in delivering enhanced care, dignity, for care providers and recipients alike, and enhanced independence for recipients?
I refer, of course, to toilet equipment such as wash dry (automatic/shower) toilets, toilet lifters.
To quote Jean Sherrington, recently a patient at Blackpool Hospital which has installed a Closomat shower toilet in its stroke unit: “From a patient’s point of view toileting is an area that has always proved to be a problem: to be dependent on another person whilst using the loo can’t be described. Being able to self toilet is a massive step forward for patients. We all want to feel ‘normal’, and using the loo is one thing we all have in common. Being able to use the loo unassisted means so much.
“Something like the new Closomat should be encouraged, not as an innovation for hospitals, but the norm.”
Such technology delivers tangible benefits for all parties, as well as the more intangible psychological benefits. Care staff, whether nurses in a hospital, carers in a home, or homecarers, can be deployed on duties other than helping people go to the toilet, helping them on, off, wiping them clean. Think about it: on average we ‘go’ eight times a day: that’s a huge amount of time staff can be spending each day just on toilet duty.
The safety and privacy considerations of such manual handling tasks are obviated. The potential risk of cross urinary or faecal contamination is similarly removed.
The issue of how well- or not- the person is cleaned afterwards is also eliminated: that in itself potentially delivers enhanced health benefits- urine or faeces left on the skin can burn, sensitive or irritated skin can be aggravated by aggressive wiping with toilet tissue.
Of course such technology costs more than its conventional counterpart, but that cost is amortised in a matter of months against staff wages alone spent helping people toilet, before the improved health benefits for all parties are factored in.
So better value and better use of resources is achieved. It’s a win: win situation.