Getting the Right Balance

Hygiene, safety, comfort, user-friendliness – all of these are highly important requirements in a care home washroom. Essity’s Liam Mynes looks at ways of ensuring that care homes tick all the right boxes as far as the smallest room is concerned.

A care home washroom needs to be a special place. It should incorporate all the prerequisites of any washroom while facilitating good hand hygiene and providing a home-from- home feel into the bargain. It should be easy to use, while also providing a safe space for the potentially frail and elderly user.

However, factors such as comfort, hygiene, practicality and ease of use can be hard to juggle in a care home washroom. For example, products such as conventional toilet rolls, soap bars and terry towelling towels may well provide a comforting ambiance and a welcome reminder of home. But elderly people are not always as dextrous as the young, and they may 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.

Similarly, picking up a soap bar and using it to lather the hands also requires a degree of dexterity. Textile towels represent a potential source of cross-contamination while also needing to be washed frequently, a factor that could lead to high laundry bills.

protects the rolls inside to avoid any possibility of cross- contamination, and the high-capacity system prevents the risk of run-outs.

Liquid or foam soap systems are preferable to soap bars which could easily be dropped, contaminated or wasted besides being difficult to use. A good compromise for the care home is an easy-to-operate system such as the Tork Foam Soap Dispenser with Intuition. This no-touch, sensor-operated unit is hygienic and easy to use, even for the frail and elderly.

Disposable towels are recommended for care homes by the Department of Health because they prevent the high laundry bills and cross-contamination risks associated with textiles. All towels should be easy to access and sufficiently soſt to touch so that they can dry the delicate skin of the elderly resident without causing any abrasion.

Tork Xpress Hand Towels are particularly appropriate for care homes because the dispenser gives out one sheet of paper at a time to prevent the risk of cross-contamination. The towels come in an Extra Soſt version which is particularly kind to the hands and gentle on the user’s skin.

"Efforts therefore need to be made to equip care home washrooms with easy-to-use systems that facilitate toileting and hand hygiene while also avoiding an overly- functional clinical feel.'"

Efforts therefore need to be made to equip care home washrooms with easy-to-use systems that facilitate toileting and hand hygiene while also avoiding an overly- functional clinical feel.'

A good toilet tissue option for care homes is Tork Coreless Mid-Size toilet paper. This comes in a compact dispenser that

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Other factors that need to be taken into account when equipping a care home washroom include the lighting, which needs to facilitate good visibility for the visually impaired, and the design and colour of the dispensers. Care home walls tend to be painted in pastel colours to provide an airy feel, but a white dispenser will fade into the background against such a décor. Dispensers in a contrasting colour – such as black Tork Elevation units – will prevent this from happening and help the resident to locate the dispensers on the wall.

All other fixtures in a care home should be installed with safety in mind. For example, door locks and handles should be easy to operate, while allowing staff immediate access in case of emergency. And the doors should open outwards while handrails and accessible call systems should be supplied in all washrooms.

The fact that there are so many elements to consider when equipping a care home washroom makes the task a tricky balancing act. But the key factor to bear in mind is that the washroom should be able to be used safely in order to minimise the risk of accidents while also allowing the resident to use the facilities with dignity.


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