the touch so that they will dry the delicate skin of the elderly resident without causing any abrasion.

Tork Xpress Hand Towels come in an Extra Soſt version which is particularly kind to the hands and gentle on the user’s skin. The dispenser also gives out only one towel at a time to prevent the risk of cross-contamination.

When it comes to toilet tissue, an older person might find it difficult to tear off a sheet of paper from a toilet roll – particularly if the resident in question is suffering from rheumatism or arthritis. A good toilet tissue option for care homes is Tork Coreless Mid-Size toilet paper. This comes in a compact dispenser that allows easy access to the paper inside. The rolls are protected to avoid any risk of cross-contamination, and the high-capacity system prevents run-outs.

Other factors that need to be taken into account when equipping a care home washroom include the design, lighting and colour scheme. The lighting needs to facilitate good visibility for the visually impaired, and motion sensor lighting may be required to assist the resident when using the toilet at night.

Care home walls tend to be painted in pastel colours to provide an airy feel, but this means that any white dispensers will quickly disappear against the pale background. Dispensers in a contrasting colour – such as black Tork Elevation units – will prevent this from occurring and make it easier for the resident to locate the dispensers on the wall.

A 2013 Department of Health document on the prevention and control of infections in the care home states that hand washing is vital in order to minimise the spread of infections, and that this practice should be actively promoted in care homes.

While this seems obvious, elderly people are not always as dextrous as the young and this can make simple actions – such as washing the hands – something of a challenge. For example, picking up a soap bar and using it to lather the hands requires a degree of dexterity. Soap bars could also easily be contaminated before use or dropped on the floor where they would become a slipping hazard.

The Department of Health recommends the use of soap dispensers as an alternative, but even these can cause problems – particularly if the push force required to access the soap is too great for elderly residents with stiff hands. All systems should therefore be designed to make life easier for the resident.

The Tork Skincare Dispenser with Intuition is a good option for the care home since it is no-touch, hygienic and dispenses soap automatically. There is also a manual version that has been specifically developed to make it easy to use for the frail and elderly. The Tork Skincare Dispenser has been given the seal of approval by the Swedish Rheumatism Association as a result.

Disposable towels are the Department of Health’s recommended solution for care homes because they avoid the cross-contamination risks associated with textile alternatives. But all towels should be easy to access and sufficiently soſt to

Clever positioning of spotlights will help to draw attention to the basin and toilet, helping users to find them more easily. Mirrors should be chosen with care since they could confuse dementia sufferers who may struggle to recognise their own reflection. Small, unobtrusive mirrors work better than large ones in the care home or alternatively, the mirrors could be removed altogether if this is considered more appropriate.

It is all too easy for a less dexterous person to scald themselves with hot water when trying to wash their hands using a traditional mixer tap. Thermostatic taps set at a controlled temperature will help to prevent scalds and burns. Pre-set valves that regulate water temperature will help to prevent the risk of scalding, and all thermostats and fittings should be regularly checked by a qualified engineer.

All other fixtures in a care home should be installed with safety and dignity in mind. For example, doors to all toilets should be lockable from the inside to afford privacy while also being designed to be easily opened from the outside.

Hand-grab rails should be supplied in every toilet and bathroom along with any other specific modifications and aids required by the individual resident. And the toilets and bathrooms should be cleaned regularly to ensure that they are kept in a sanitary and hygienic condition.

Equipping a care home washroom is a balancing act because there are so many factors to consider. But by using a combination of strategic thinking, empathy, a robust hygiene strategy and the right products, care home managers will be able to offer tailored solutions that allow residents to use the washrooms safely, hygienically – and with dignity. - 43 -

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