A Gemini variable height bath by Abacus Healthcare, with integrated platform, has been installed at the main educational campus of the national charity Young Epilepsy so that residential students can enjoy safe bathing.
Young Epilepsy is a national charity supporting children and young people with epilepsy and associated conditions. It also provides a residential and educational facility for students in Lingfield, Surrey. This impressive 62-acre campus includes St Piers School and College, extensive research facilities including a telemetry unit, rehabilitation departments, outreach services and residential halls – catering for around 210 students of which two thirds reside on site. As part of its programme to continually enhance service, the charity has invested in a new Gemini bath which has been installed in one of the residential halls. This specialist power assisted bath has been chosen to provide safe and more comfortable bathing for disabled students along with ergonomic working heights for carers
Young Epilepsy is an outstanding establishment with a diverse range of facilities including a gym and sports hall, state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool, sensory suites and a working farm. The residential accommodation is equally as impressive with 24 en-suite bedrooms and the ‘William’s House’ now has a shared accessible bathroom with a Gemini. The Gemini from Abacus provides powered variable height and incorporates an integrated changing, drying and bathing platform that negates the need to manual lift or lower semi ambulant bathers into the bath. Its double-lift functionality ensures carers can avoid bending or stooping so the risk of back injury is reduced. In addition if a bather experiences a seizure whilst bathing, carers can attend to them quickly and stabilise the situation.
The 600-strong care team at the organisation supports children with epilepsy, autism, behavioural difficulties and other neurological conditions. These caring professionals include Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Physios, Psychologists and more – all dedicated to supporting and developing young people with challenging disabilities. Rebecca Parker, Assistant House Manager was the main instigator behind the application for a Gemini and works with the bath on a regular basis.
“I feel proud that the newly installed Gemini will have such a huge impact here at Young Epilepsy, especially for the students. When I began working in this residential house, requesting a new assistive bath was one of the first things I actioned after a student had a seizure whilst bathing. This student was prone to very long seizures before she was treated with emergency medicine. On that occasion, I was bent over a standard low bath for 30 minutes supporting the student. As a result, I decided to review guidelines with our OT. Our requirements were for a bath that the student could be lowered into whilst also being accessible for other users as well. After making enquiries we discovered we could indeed find a bath that matched our exact requirements – it was an Abacus Gemini.”
Linda Leadbetter has been an OT Assistant for over 14 years and is the Moving and Handling Trainer at Young Epilepsy. She believes the new Gemini bath is a vital piece of equipment to enhance student development and has been impressed with the level of support from Abacus.
“Following our enquiry to Abacus, Bob Gibbs came to visit us for an initial assessment and then a subsequent site survey. From here we passed the process on to our Facilities Team who approved the budget and once the bathroom plans and specification were finalised, the bath was installed within a matter of weeks.
Our Facilities Team planned the process with Abacus, performing the necessary pre-installation work. This meant the Abacus team were able to install the Gemini in just one day and without any problems. We received training to use the bath proficiently which has enabled us to achieve the optimum bathing procedures with several of our students. The Gemini has now been installed for one month and it is already making a huge difference to care delivery.”
“Having a Gemini onsite is so important as the staff can assist quickly and easily if a bather has a seizure. The Gemini provides far greater access than a standard bath as well as an appropriate working height making it much easier to quickly provide support or to administer medicine. The bath drains very well which is particularly important for students with epilepsy as we need to empty the water quickly to remove any possibility of drowning. Also it is important to consider the Gemini is here to promote independence for students where appropriate. By allowing students to use the Gemini, we can successfully focus on their independent skills outside of the bathroom because they are relaxed and in a far better frame of mood. It is therefore not just a bath – it is an integral piece of kit that provides wider developmental and well-being benefits.”
“Communication with students comes when you give them time to relax and time to process. When young children are doing something enjoyable, it is not seen as a task. They become more open and responsive. This is the ethos behind the way we use our equipment here – instead of something being seen as a task, we aim to make it an enjoyable experience that can promote communication. For some of our students this is true with bathing. The two students in this house who use the Gemini regularly become much calmer after bathing, more receptive to learning independent skills, and bolder in their own personal care than they would do if we utilised a shower.”
Anna Fox, OT, has been working at the centre for eight months as part of a growing and talented therapy team. She sees the many benefits of the Gemini over and above the design features of the bath. Anna commented: ‘Whilst we have separate shower facilities, it is important to us that the bath can be readily used by other students in the house. We have two students in particular who really enjoy bathing. It is part of their personal care routines and an important way to access relaxation. We aim to promote activities that involve personal participation for one of these particular students. Although she is quite limited in her level of communication, our staff know her very well and can interpret her facial expressions and understand her sounds. Bathing is something that she really enjoys and can now access very easily. She enjoys the sensation of the water and is relaxed when immersed in the bath which is not necessarily the case in her day-to-day living.”
“As well as the Gemini being a functional piece of kit in terms of washing and hygiene, for our students it is a functional way to obtain sensory relaxation. It enables safe transfers and easier Moving and Handling for the staff. The height of the bath also provides ideal height for student/carer eye contact.
The Gemini is a deep bath which allows the users to fully immerse and relax. The back support and non-slip surface on the base are really helpful in ensuring ideal posture in the bath.”
Young Epilepsy – offering support nationwide
Young Epilepsy is the national charity tackling epilepsy with children and young people across the UK. It delivers world class diagnosis, assessment and rehabilitation as well as pioneering research, specialist education, a helpline and national outreach services.
The installation of a new Gemini bath at the centre reiterates the charity’s commitment to providing the best care and support for young disabled people so they can development and fulfil their maximum potential.