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Bathing systems: confronting today's realities.

Once the visitor gets past the tastefully-appointed lobby, the sunny and attractive common areas and warm, friendly greetings of the management staff, he or she gets to the heart of the matter: how well does the nursing facility care for the personal needs of its residents? Your bathing area provides a large part of the answer. It is an operation that must combine high productivity with personal sensitivity - no small achievement, and a strong indicator of a nursing facility's proper place in today's competitive marketplace. That is why cost-efficiency and marketability are increasingly important factors influencing the purchase of nursing home bathing equipment. How are vendors responding? Recently Nursing Homes posed the two questions - cost-efficiency? marketability? - to representatives of bathing systems vendors and got these answers:

Cost-Efficiency

John Kraft, President, Silcraft Corp.: "The best of today's systems are designed to require only one aide to facilitate resident transfer and bathing. Older transfer systems that require lifting the resident up and over the tub usually require two aides for safety. Side-entry systems such as ours that allow residents to help themselves can help reduce staff needs. Also, there are systems available today in which the bedbound resident requires only one transfer from the bed to the lift seat which is indexed into the tub. Because it is designed to work with the tub, it is called an integrated transfer device. That can be a good savings of staff time and workload."

Marvin Smith, Director of Marketing, Parker Bath: "Safety and ease of use are critical to any bathing system. Easy entrance and exit through side-entry doors saves time and encourages independence, while it reduces strain and risk associated with lifting. Reducing filling and disinfecting time frees up more time for resident care. One of our most popular models uses only 28 gallons of water, compared to the usual 50 to 75 gallons. Automated dispensing of disinfectant solution through the ports of our air spa saves on staff time and delivers all-around infection control. Durability is a major consideration. We all know that busy nursing homes are hard on equipment. Bonded and cross-laminated fiberglass is better. Even though it is a bit more expensive, it is stronger and lasts longer. When products do need servicing, modular construction allowing easy access to parts is a big plus."

William Nass, National Sales Manager, Apollo Corp.: "Two factors we think are important are equipment versatility and, if at all possible, a dedicated bathing staff. We have many homes that use our bathing systems in concert with a dedicated bathing staff. These two or three nursing aides are designated as bathing specialists, and they enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of bathing residents. As for equipment versatility, ideally you want several features working together to enhance resident dignity and the safety of residents and staff. We offer a quick-fill reservoir device allowing a facility to bathe one resident while filling up the bath water for the next. This translates to a 90-second fill time versus several minutes for more conventional means. Working automatically and simultaneously with our other features is our ultra-violet disinfecting technique. This purifies the water during the bath and eliminates the need to chemically disinfect between baths. Our Beta testing has shown that this reduces the chances of a resident contracting a urinary tract infection by up to 50%. Nursing homes that participated in the test estimated their cost to be between $300 and $500 to treat a single UTI, so there are potential savings."

Marketability

Kraft (Silcraft): "Having someone strapped to a chair or stretcher, lifted in the air and dunked in a tub is undignified at best and, for some residents such as those with Alzheimer's, traumatic. An owner may reason that, 'since my toughest residents require lifting and supine-type tubs, I'll make all my equipment that; at least I won't be confusing my staff.' And that's a mistake. Many residents these days don't require this type of equipment; they have widely varying abilities and disabilities, and the product should offer the full range of features allowing them to help themselves to the extent possible. Our side-entry products are designed for just this sort of resident, i.e., for any resident who is not totally bedbound. This approach to bathing can offer the facility great marketing appeal. As for esthetics, there's no comparison with the products of 10 or 20 years ago; today's are much more esthetic and functional."

Smith (Parker): "Today's nursing home residents grew up taking baths and they deserve the comfort and dignity of bathing in their later years. Progressive facilities try to simulate the home bathing experience. The more relaxing and residential-like the bathing experience is, the better will be the impression, from a marketing standpoint. Today's faster-operating bathing systems also offer the possibility of increasing the frequency of baths given during the week. Tub designs, too, are more ergonomic than they were in the past, offering 'tilt-recline' for better positioning, height adjustability to reduce staff bending and reaching, and full-body support from head to heels. A bathing area that looks comfortable and appealing should indeed be part of the visitors' tour."

Nass (Apollo): "We see more and more facilities making the bathing area an important part of the tour. Some facilities have beautiful lobbies and well-decorated dining and common areas, yet the bathing area is run down and hasn't been remodeled in years. We work with many nursing homes that highlight their bathing systems in order to help 'sell' the facility to prospective residents and families. Particular product features, such as our no-lift, face-to-face transfer system, helps accentuate marketability as well. And a feature such as our ultra-violet disinfecting system demonstrates that a facility is pro-actively trying to safeguard residents' health and well-being - another marketing plus."
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Title Annotation:how bathing system vendors address marketability and cost-efficiency issues in the purchase of nursing home bathing equipment
Publication:Nursing Homes
Date:Sep 1, 1996
Words:959
Previous Article:Exploring change: AAHSA's 35th Annual Meeting and Exposition, Philadelphia, PA, October 28-31, 1996.
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