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Forward thinking
It might not seem like the best time to invest in capital expenditures, but new
bathing and lifting equipment could be well worth the cost in the long run

By Julie E. Williamson                 return on investment.
Given the current economic                Even better news? Various fea-
climate, many skilled nursing          tures are far more cost-effective
operators have become increas-         than one might expect and, in
ingly focused on streamlining          some cases, can help facilities get
operational efficiencies and tight-    more mileage from their existing
ening the belt on capital equip-       equipment.
ment spending.
    While such an approach is cer-     Moving beyond basics
tainly understandable—and often        Facilities looking to build upon
prudent—there are times when           bathing system basics will find an
factoring in equipment improve-        array of features and accessories
ments into the budget can pay off      available to help them customize
with big dividends.                    the equipment and meet the vary-
    Bathing and lift systems are       ing needs and preferences of their
two prime examples. These days,        residents and staff.
it’s not just about being able to         Adjustable height tubs, which
perform the basic task at hand but     reduce back strain in staff and cre-
also about making the bathing          ate a more comfortable resident
or lifting experience safer and        transfer, are one option that has
more enjoyable—for residents           become increasingly popular in
and staff—while maximizing             recent years.
available resources. Meeting those        “In the past, tubs were made

                                                                                                                                                               Photo: Apollo Bath
goals isn’t just a good move from      very high off the ground so as
an operational and risk manage-        not to strain the caregiver’s back
ment perspective; it’s also becom-     while bathing [the resident]. The
ing increasingly important on the      problem with this was the resident      Newer bathing equipment may serve to enhance resident and caregiver safety.
regulatory front.                      had to be lifted very high in the air   That is especially important because of new regulations.
    One bill, H.R. 2381, which is      on the lifter to get into the tub,”
currently in committee, calls for      explains Kari Harbaugh, associate       possible to start the bathing          supply of water is ready and wait-
an occupational safety and health      product manager of Milwaukee,           process even before the resident       ing for the next resident. Because
standard geared toward safe patient    WI-based Direct Supply. “It was         is ready. They can significantly       Apollo’s bathing systems are
handling and injury prevention of      a scary experience for residents.       reduce the time spent waiting for      modular in design, the Rapid Fill
patients and caregivers.               These tubs often went unused            the tub to fill.                       reservoir option, which generally
    “With efforts such as this, both   in the facilities shortly after they       “Once the resident is in the tub,   sells for under $3,900, can easily
caregivers and staff can be assured    arrived. With many recumbent            temperature-controlled water in        be added at a later date.
that procedures will be in place       tubs now, customers are able to         the reservoir fills the tub in about      “If a facility is on a tighter bud-
[to enhance] both their comfort        order it with a height-adjustable       90 seconds. Other tubs without         get, it may make sense to start with
and safety,” says Scott Maurus,        option, allowing the tub to be          reservoirs can take 10 minutes         a basic air spa bathing system and
product manager for ArjoHunt-          in a low position for a transfer,       or more to fill. These long waits      then build from there as budgets
leigh of Addison, IL.                  then raised to a safe working           waste staff time and make resi-        [allow],” Anderson said. But if
    More than ever, equipment          height once the resident is safely      dents uncomfortable, and pos-          a facility bathes a large number
manufacturers are offering a slew      inside.”                                sibly, combative,” notes David         of residents per day—10 to 15
of standard features and add-on           Modern bathing systems also          Anderson, product manager,             per shift or so—then the reser-
accessories that can meet those        are being built with added effi-        Apollo Bath of Somerset, WI.           voir could offer a rapid return
safety requirements while also         ciency in mind. Rapid-fill, heated         The reservoir automatically         on investment, he added, noting
driving added value and a rapid        reservoirs, for example, make it        refills during a bath, so a fresh      “especially if a facility has low

70 • September 2009
                                        [                                                                ]
water pressure and has to wait a                                                                                                          only for much less [money].”
long time for the tub to fill for                                                                                                            Levindale is also looking at
each resident.”         
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