Bath Safety Sans Remodel

Avoiding costly bathroom overhauls for mobility patients.

Typically, providing bath safety for mobility patients can require expensive remodels to their bathtubs, showers and other fixtures — and sometime the entire bathroom. Typical modifications include replacing the bathtub or existing shower stall with a roll-in shower stall. That can mean knocking out just the tub, or possibly expanding the bathroom itself. Another option might be to remove the lip of a shower stall and replace the shower stall frame.

Needless to say, costs can quickly mount in such a scenario, especially if the new bathing arrangements need to match an existing “decorator” look. However there are solutions to help them avoid these costs while ensuring bath safety.


No-Remodel Options

“The biggest hurdle for a person that is a little bit more advanced in their current disability is to have a normal bath or shower,” says Vadim Zitser, director of sales and marketing for ShowerBuddy, which makes safe bathing solutions for mobility patients that don’t require a bathroom remodel.
“A lot of patients end up getting sponge baths in their bed,” he explains. “Another option is to do home remodel, which can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on what they’re doing to their restroom. And the final option is something is something like the ShowerBuddy.”

The ShowerBuddy prevents reconstructing a shower stall and removing the lip to the shower by letting the mobility patient go over the lip without having to get out of the chair.


How It Works

There are three parts to the ShowerBuddy: a shower base, a bridge that goes over the lip of the shower, and the wheelchair. All three components attach to each other so that the chair transfers over the shower lip via the bridge and onto the ShowerBuddy base.

To accomplish this transfer, the chair is made of two components: the chair itself and a wheeled base. Once the chair contacts the bridge, it disconnects from its wheeled base and slides via runners over the bridge and onto the base. When patients finish their shower, the chair moves back across the bridge and back on its wheeled base.

The bridge is removable by the caregiver, in order to allow the door to be closed, so that patients can bathe. Once the patient is in the shower, he or she can spin 360 degrees on the base to get a thorough shower, Zitser explains.
The base can either be permanent, or if another person living in the house needs to use the shower, as well, it also can be removed, given that it only weighs between 15 and 20 pounds.


Installation

The trick to installing a ShowerBuddy system lies in ensuring that the base is level and that all components properly line up so that they seamlessly dock together, thus ensuring a smooth transfer, says Israel Gamburd, ShoweBuddy’s director of research and development.
“If it’s not straight, it will work, but it won’t be as convenient for the patient,” he explains. “So it’s very important that the dealer that puts it in takes its time.”

For a first-time installer, a ShowerBuddy installation should take no more than 30 to 40 minutes, according to Gamburd, and once they have that first-time installation under their belt, a typical ShowerBuddy installation takes a much speedier 15 to 20 minutes.

In terms of funding, since the ShowerBuddy is a bath item, it is not typically covered by Medicare, and thusly must funded via private pay, Zitser says. Depending on the unit, the price ranges from $1,995 to $2,695.

This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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