Abacus donates power assisted Scorpio bath for Lane family’s DIY-SOS home conversion

Scorpio 1700 bath

disabled girl and carers in assisted bathroom

Karis in her wheelchair with Sister Johanna (left) and Mum Karen (right)

Project: DIY-SOS Big Build donation
Location: Bromsgrove, West Midlands
Solution: Scorpio 1700 heightadjustable bath with powered bather transfer seat
Bather condition: Cerebral Palsy and Turner Syndrome

DIY SOS Big Build

Johanna Lane and partner Will from Bromsgrove, West Midlands, have been donated an Abacus specialist bath as part of a BBC TV home transformation so disabled sister Karis can stay with greater comfort, safety and independence.

Karis Lane, aged 28, is a lively and positive student studying Social Sciences who has Cerebral Palsy, Asperger’s and Turner Syndrome. Outside of college she is cared for by her mother, Karen aged 63 who lives in Stourbridge, and older sister Johanna with a house in Bromsgrove.

Karis requires a wheelchair to remain mobile and carer assistance with everyday living – this includes lifting between a chair, bed, toilet and bath. This manual carrying of Karis was becoming impossible for Karen as she has multiple health issues such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Spondylitis. Support for Karis was shared
between Karen and Johanna however neither owned an accessible property.

With cold winters particularly affecting Karis and Karen’s mobility, the family were in a desperate situation, compounded by Karen’s partner being diagnosed with cancer. Karen urgently needed respite assistance and Johanna wanted to help more – so an application was sent to the BBC TV programme DIY-SOS.

DIY-SOS team with Abacus

CASE STUDY: Abacus donates power assisted Scorpio bath for Lane family’s DIY-SOS home conversion

DIY SOS Big Build

Karis in the Scorpio bath with Karen mum

Karis in the Scorpio bath with Karen her mum

Karis cuddles her Trevor the Turtle, the Abacus company Mascot

Karis cuddles her Trevor the Turtle, the Abacus company Mascot

Researchers from the BBC flagship programme contacted Karen in January 2018 and following an assessment of their needs, Johanna and Will were offered a complete home redesign. This project would provide the family with a fully accessible house so Karis could stay regularly and provide her mother with vital respite.

The ‘Big Build’ would include a two-storey side extension and reconfiguration of the complete property so appropriate space and wheelchair access were vailable for Karis. A key element of the conversion would be the installation of specialist equipment to assist with daily living – hence the DIY-SOS production team sent out communication to local product suppliers for help.

Andrew Williams of Gainsborough Healthcare Group, the parent company of Abacus Specialist Bathroom Solutions, saw a post on Facebook regarding this request and following CEO approval, he made contact with an offer of a donated specialist bath.

Before the build began in July 2018, senior representatives from Abacus visited Johanna’s house to assess Karis and to ascertain which bath would provide the
ideal solution for her. A Scorpio 1700 bath with powered height adjustment and bather transfer seat was deemed most appropriate as it would eliminate the
need for manual lifting and lowering of Karis. Once Karis was lifted, rotated and lowered into the bath on the transfer seat, the bath could be raised gently immersing Karis into temperature controlled water. This would provide a safer, more enjoyable experience for Karis and allow family members to help with personal hygiene at a comfortable height, without risking back or muscle injury.

Unbeknown to the family, Abacus worked with the designated DIY-SOS designers, architects and structural engineers to ensure Karis could own a Scorpio 1700. Specifications were agreed so that the bath could be installed in the designated location which was being converted from a bedroom to an accessible bathroom.

During the construction work, the Abacus design and technical teams were in regular contact with project managers to ensure all pre-installation works were completed according to the required specification.

The complete home conversion only took nine days and the specialist Abacus team arrived on site during day eight to begin fitting the bath. The extremely fast turnaround and challenging conditions, including the extreme heatwave at that time, did not deter Abacus from completing the installation on time. On the  reveal day’, the Lane family discovered they had a new Abacus bath which was a “complete shock.”

As a caring and ethical business, passionate about assisting individuals with disabilities, Abacus provided the Scorpio 1700 bath, planning, installation and
commissioning free of charge.

This accessible bathing solution will now deliver a huge improvement as Johanna explains: “We never imagined we would receive a specialist bath as part of the conversion, we are so lucky. I have tended to bathe my sister the most and being tall, 5’ 9”, my back has been getting worse having to bend and lift Karis in and out all the time. Trying to lift and dry her when she was wet and slippery was a nightmare.

David Bertorelli and Lane family DIY-SOS Reveal Day

David Bertorelli, Abacus Regional Assessor (left), supports the Lane family during the DIY-SOS Reveal Day

This resulted in more strip washes when sat on the toilet which were not pleasant for Karis. Now she can have a proper bath and feel completely clean. Will used to have to carry Karis upstairs as well so bath-time was never that enjoyable for all of us, especially as he is 6’2’’. If he puts his back out that is a major problem as his job is very physical being a stunt horse rider and professional medieval knight!

Jo adds: “Now we have a through-floor lift so Karis can access upstairs in her wheelchair and with the help of a ceiling track hoist and the Scorpio transfer seat, getting in the bath is so much easier!

My Mum’s back is bad from all the years of lifting Karis at her house so to come here and not worry about that is simply amazing.”

Karen is equally as happy: ‘We are all so grateful as I understand the cost of specialist equipment. I used to work as a Market Researcher however had to give up work so I could fight full-time for funding to help Karis. Equipment, education, therapy…it is all so hard to get financial help so the donation of the Abacus bath and other products means we can now plan for the future and help Karis achieve more.

Lane family house

Strip washes were not pleasant for Karis. Now she can have a proper bath and feel completely clean

scorpio powered bath - seat out

scorpio powered bath - seat over bath

scorpio powered bath - seat inside

The height adjustable Scorpio includes a powered seat which lifts, rotates and lowers disabled bathers

Lane family DIY SOS show

The Scorpio provides better eye-level engagement without excessive bending which can cause back problems
Top right: Karen is congratulated by Andrew Williams from the Gainsborough Healthcare Group.  Bottom right: Johanna’s on-site accessible hair saloon

We have come out of the dark and into the light. The house conversion means Karis can stay with her sister safely even when Jo is up working at her hairdressing  salon in the back garden. We can all spend more quality time together without the worry of so many daily tasks.”

“I don’t have to lift Karis in or out of the bath as I do at home, which is so hard as standard baths are always really low. The Scorpio is easy to use and we can place Karis in the transfer seat by using a sling as the bath is hoist-friendly.”

“DIY-SOS have made our life more normal, that doesn’t sound spectacular, but when you consider the situation we were in, it is so special.”

Karis is delighted with her new bath – not only because she can bathe, it means she is not so reliant on manual lifting from her relatives. Karis says: “I always worry the help I need puts too much strain on my Mum, Sister and Wil. I kept saying to my Mum, ‘Am I making your illnesses worse?’ It’s a horrible feeling…now everything is different. Using my Abacus bath for the first time was brilliant, I said ‘I am so happy to be having an actual bath, Yeah!’

The seat will take me a bit of time to get used to as it’s different but I feel so much safer than being lifted, especially when wet. I kept crying so much on the reveal day about the bath and everything, it was so emotional.”

As bath-time is much easier for Karis and her family, it is regarded as an enjoyable experience, not a unpleasant necessity. Abacus will continue to support
the family with after sales support and servicing to ensure their Scorpio 1700 continues to provide vital safety and comfort in the bathroom.

Using my Abacus bath for the first time was brilliant, I said ‘I am  so happy to be having an actual bath, yeah!’