How would you cope with going from a comfortable standard of living, with a husband, a young child and pregnant to being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a single mum of two, and “at the mercy of the state”?
That’s the situation Jay Denton (48) from Colchester found herself in less than a decade ago, but one to which she has adapted, helped by making the most of available living aids/ assistive technology.
“I never thought I’d get excited about a loo! I do now!:” she laughs. “Going to the loo if you’re disabled is one of the things that doesn’t even occur to you until you’re in that situation; it’s not on the radar. But when you are in that situation, it’s funny how little things make such a difference to your quality of life.”
The key adaptations to her rented bungalow have been, on the recommendation of her Occupational Therapist, the replacement of a conventional WC with a Closomat Palma Vita (with plinth to elevate the seat height), to which has now been added- following further deterioration in her condition- an Aerolet Tilt toilet lifter, also from Closomat.
Closomat’s Palma Vita wash & dry (automatic bidet) toilets feature integrated douching and drying triggered by user preference: when the user remains seated and triggers the flush mechanism, the Closomat flushes and simultaneously washes the usee and dries via warm air drying. It eliminates the need to wipe clean, and all its associated considerations of dexterity, balance, hand: body contact, and potential urinal or faecal cross-contamination of hands, body or clothing. It also offers the best wash & dry performance available on the market. A raft of accessories enable its personalisation to individual user needs, initially, and as they change with time. By standing up and flushing, the Closomat can be used as a conventional WC.
Closomat’s Aerolet toilet lifter replicates the natural motion of sitting down and standing up, supporting and balancing the user whilst gently, automatically lowering and raising them over the WC. It is all controlled by the push of a button via integral arm supports, which simultaneously provide additional bracing as the resident transfers from wheelchair or frame to the toilet. Closomat is the only company to offer both a tilting and vertical version in a toilet lifter: the vertical is best suited for people with limited lower body and limb strength, whereas the tilt suits people with control over their legs.
Explains Jay, “I don’t want to depend on people doing things for me before I really need it.
The wash & dry functions of the Closomat mean I can ‘go’ and know I’m clean without having to worry about physically twisting, turning, bending to wipe. I’m tall (5ft 9ins) so the height of the toilet matters: I can’t use a ‘disabled toilet’ away from home as if I sit down, I can’t get up again without help! It’s great having the plinth added to the Closomat, as the toilet is set to the right height for me. And because the user triggers the douching and drying, the children use it too, as a normal loo.
“The Aerolet gives me the adaptability, flexibility to still ‘go; without help, depending on how good or bad I’m feeling that day. It enables me to use my legs, if possible. How I am feeling depends on how high I need the unit to raise me to standing. Without it, on bad days, I could potentially end up sat there until someone came to help!”
Closomat, founded 55 years ago, and still family-owned, is unique in its provision, in-house, of design advice, supply, installation, commissioning and after-sales service & maintenance for the Palma Vita and its range of accessible toileting solutions at home and away. Details of the Closomat’s assistive toilet care offerings, plus case studies from real-life users, can be found on its website www.clos-o-mat.com.
Mark Crabtree from On The Level tells us what motivates him and why 3D printing excites him...
BR: How long have you worked in the bathroom industry?
Personally I’ve been involved with On The Level for the last 15 years, but the company has been going since 1999 meaning we are fast approaching our 20 year anniversary.
BR: What are the key USP’s offered by your company?
On The Level prides itself on being able to fix problems, and we often succeed where other companies have failed. We are also proud to be an advice-giving company, so we are always happy to answer questions from past, current and future customers.
BR: What new manufacturing technologies excite you?
With so many advances in technology, there’s always something new on the market. Right now though, we are however, excited by the thought of 3D printing.
BR: What challenges do you foresee for the industry over the next 12-24 months?
How the housing market goes can have a direct impact on a variety of industries, the housing market is very buoyant and interest rates have just gone up for the first time in a while. When we are lucky enough to build a good relationship with a housing developer, we are generally well looked after.
BR: Which industrial designer do you admire the most and why? (Living or departed)
Sir Terence Conran
BR: Where do you think the industry most needs to improve?
In adhering to mandatory legislations. While CE marking has been a legal requirement since July 2013, it’s horrifying to see the lack of knowledge and apathy to what is a legal requirement – not an optional choice.
BR: Online has certainly changed the market, what key benefits have you seen?
The internet provides the ability to launch and promote a product instantly with as much or as little details as the end user wants.
BR: What advice would you give a new starter in the industry today?
Whilst experience is useful - product knowledge is essential.
BR: What motivates you most in your work?
Leading a successful, happy and fun team and constantly developing new products, new markets and the Brand.
BR: If you could choose a super-power what would it be & why?
I have got super powers, but I cannot disclose them!
Stephen Maley explains the philosophy behind Hewi's accessible design...
BR: Describe the philosophy of Hewi
SM: Decades of experience has enabled us to become experts in accessible design offering uncompromising, integrated, well thought through solutions using top quality materials and processes. The design requirements for areas where accessibility is key, for example, hospitals, hotels, care homes, and workplaces can be extremely demanding. The design and fitout of accessible sanitary rooms in public buildings or private, multi-generational bathrooms is equally challenging. As a market leader for accessible design, we know how complex the standards are and approach each project with the aim of providing beautiful, compliant and de-stigmatised accessible spaces.
BR: How does the Uk compare with other coutries, do you think we are ahead or behind in providing solutions for this market?
SM: Hewi is fortunate enough to work in over 70 countries around the world which gives us a pretty good feel for the global approach to accessible design. The UK is very design conscious and as a result our UK clients and specifiers are very discerning in the way the accessible space is considered. The UK also has world leading regulatory demands from DOC M to British Standards, many of which are replicated around the world and sets the UK above most countries in this crucial sector.
BR: What is the Hewi definition of good accessible bathroom design?
SM: To have designed a bathroom with multi-use, flexible products which not only look great, but are functional too and offer the discreet levels of additional support as and when required. For example, our removable shower seats and support rails deliver tailored support.
BR: How has Hewi maintained design integrity whilst creating products for the healthcare industry?
SM: It’s in our DNA!. We have been specialising in this demanding sector for generations, so we know the products must be robust, durable and easy to maintain. We spend considerable time on material selection, market research and product testing to ensure that improved designs are up to the task of the tough demands required.
BR: Do you think bathroom product design for accessible products in general is still behind the times?
SM: There are many superb examples of well designed accessibility products around the world – so no I don’t necessarily think that area is too far behind the times. What is lacking is the general approach to accessible space design, as it can often be an afterthought or in some cases not even considered at all!
BR: How well received are Hewi's products in your intended market?
SM: It always gives us great pleasure when we receive feedback from clients form all sectors from Care to Hospitality, who tell us how delighted they are with their new “accessible bathrooms” which don’t resemble a 1970s care home. Our hotel clients around the world report a reduction in guest complaints about being given the “disabled room” – and the fact that each HEWI system can be fitted /removed in seconds to tailor the bathroom to the needs of the user, means we have many satisfied clients, and users whether disabled or not.
BR: What inspired Hewi to create the System 900 range?
SM: The HEWI Product Innovation Team used the UK demands for Doc M & British Standard compliance as a key factor in developing the longer/deeper shower seats and appropriate support rails within a brand new range together with matching accessories.
BR: Who is your target audience for this range, healthcare, homeowners or both?
SM: Our target audience will always be the end users who want to use the accessible bathroom safely, comfortably and not feel stigmatised. This means that this addition to our portfolio will go across all sectors from Homeowners to Hospitals and workplace/public buildings to Hotels.
BR: What do you feel were the design challenges you needed to over-come to create a product that would be well-received & functional?
SM: In all the studies & consultations we had with industry experts, one of the most repeated demands we received was that the shower seat for example, must be the right size, but it must look amazing. This meant we focused on the sheer strength of the seat and bracket material to ensure they were up for the job. And after the thousands of drop weight tests conducted we are able to confidently produce a beautifully designed & compliant shower seat.
BR: What are the key USP’s for this product?
SM: The HEWI S900 range continues with the HEWI legacy of quality and aspirational design across the entire portfolio which comply with UK’s Doc M, & British Standards and USA’s ADA
BR: What do you feel this product offers over and above those offered by the competition?
SM: Contemporary compliance. Within a huge range of solutions from the market leading designed accessibility experts
To find out more about the S900 Range - click the link.
To see Hewi's latest hotel video click the link
The HEWI S900 range.