Celebrate the Temporary

Suction bath aids are showing up in some unexpected places.

Suction bath aids have been around for years, and have been a great solution for unexpected problems like a close call in the bath that warns of danger ahead, or extra stability for post-op patients.

But they have some new applications as well. For one thing, aging Baby Boomers value the stealth approach: they want to hide the safety features in their homes like James Bond hid weaponry in a ballpoint pen. These are well-heeled customers who want comfort as they age, with no environmental signs that they will ever age at all. Suction to the rescue.

“We call our line ‘Changing Lifestyles’ because at all different ages there are different challenges,” says Rich Lowenstein, vice president of sales at MHI Safe-Er-Grip. “Grab bars have been on the shelves for 12 years. They outsell the permanent bar. The consumer is familiar with this bar.”

Copycats selling through TV pitches helped popularize suction bars years ago, before disappearing from the marketplace, Lowenstein says. Then “the major [manufacturers] all followed us and went into the bars. We went beyond the bars and into all these accessories.”

So these days the variety of suction items is greater, and accessories offer a great opportunity to reach new customers and to upsell clients who come in for standard aids like bath and transfer benches and elevated toilet seats.

One example is “sandwich generation” customers who come in to outfit their parents’ homes or living spaces.

“A lot of people are buying for their parents or spouse, they want to get everything done in one stop,” says Jim Greatorex, vice president of VGM’s Accessible Home Improvement of America division.

While they’re outfitting their parents’ houses for maximum independence, suggest some suction products for the buyer’s home for when mom and dad visit.

“It’s not just in your own home that you need this item. It’s also when your parents are visiting,” says Brendan McEvoy, director of product management at Compass Health. “You need the same set of supplies that can accommodate parents when they are in the house.”

A suction grab bar can also help with deciding the proper location for a permanent bar at the parents’ home, then stow in the caregiver’s linen closet for visits.

Another group is post-op patients, who may need temporary stability aids, but expect to heal their way out of the immediate need.

A customer buying a bath seat or transfer bench probably needs not only a hand-held shower, but may need a suction shower holder to keep the spray at a lower height. Aids that keep their bath essentials handy, like Safe-er-Grip’s suction caddies, pivoting shower mirror, brush rack, drip-dry rack and soap dish solve problems for seated bathers and patients with range-of-motion issues who need everything in easy reach. There’s a footrest for foot and leg care. There’s even a suction toilet paper holder, in case the permanent roll in a bathroom isn’t convenient for the patient.

Suction aids are also a good option for temporary lodgings. Active seniors can travel with suction aids for RVs and hotel use. More sedentary customers may need them in rentals and convalescent homes, where permanent installations aren’t an option.

Lowenstein even noted his son asking for a grab bar for his frat house shower, so members with hangovers could shower safely the day after a rager.

Finally, suction aids can appeal to some customers’ vanity. They can remain in place when the customer is home alone or with close family, then detach and disappear while guests are around.

This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Holly Wagner is a freelancer writer covering a variety of industries, including healthcare.

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