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19th May 2017
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AKW raises the standard with electric care shower
AKW Medicare is celebrating the six month anniversary of the launch of its LUDA electric care shower with soaring sales figures. A market leader in the provision of elderly and disabled bathroom products, the company reports that sales for January exceeded half of the total sales for 2010. Uptake by the trade and extremely positive feedback from end users is confirming that the company has raised the standard for electric care showers with this product.
In designing the LUDA, AKW says it has taken the industry-established standard and added three key criteria identified specifically for the needs of the care market. With a range of features designed to offer safe, hygienic showering, the LUDA is thought to be an industry-first with a fully-waterproof IP45 rating. Other key features include an integrated double check valve to prevent backflow and a riser rail that doubles as a weight-bearing grab rail.
For its first venture into this product area, AKW invested four years in design and development to produce an electric care shower that incorporates key safety features and goes beyond the standard written by the shower industry for this specialist area.
Lead engineer on the project Paul Mulvenna says: "We saw the opportunity to take the standards that have been established by the industry and raise the bar by designing an electric care shower that met market needs by incorporating features that go beyond the standard hygiene and safety requirements for electric showers."
Electric showers are a relative newcomer to the care market and only started to emerge after major manufacturers developed their own standards to enable them to perform to the same levels of temperature control as TMV3 mixer showers. Using these standards as a starting point, AKW's research identified three additional key features that the company believed were critical to safety for the care market: an integral grab rail, a backflow prevention system for the shower head and electrical safety for the shower unit.
The first point was addressed by converting the shower's riser rail to a robust grab rail that provides a reassuring hand-hold when needed, as Paul Mulvenna explains: "Most riser rails are relatively flimsy, designed simply to do the job of keeping the shower head in position, so it's necessary to fit an additional grab rail. We decided that a neater, more aesthetically pleasing, solution would be to combine the two functions in one and make our riser rail into a grab rail, capable of supporting 190kg."
Because bathing facilities in care facilities have to comply with regulations to prevent back siphonage of Category 5 fluids into the mains water system, shower heads without backflow-prevention have to be retained in the riser rail to stop them falling into contaminated water. This limits the range of the shower hose and makes it difficult for carers to assist with showering and direct the flow of water.
To overcome this, AKW has incorporated a flow-control system into the LUDA's shower head which prevents backflow and enables the carer to have full control of the hose, if necessary allowing it to lie in the shower tray or bath water in an emergency situation. This flow-control system meets all of the relevant water-related building regulations.
In the area of electrical safety, AKW has designed the shower unit to withstand direct jets of water, as Paul Mulvenna explains:
"The norm is to have shower units that conform to IP44 for water ingress. This essentially means that they are only sufficiently water-tight to withstand water dripping on to them, so the unit has to be located away from the main flow of the shower. We opted to design to IP45, which means that it can withstand jets of water fired from any direction - in other words, it is fully waterproof.
For the care establishment, this means that location of the shower unit is much more flexible. The LUDA can be located anywhere in the bathroom to meet accessibility requirements, either in a shower cubicle or over a bath, and at any height, in complete safety. No other product carries this degree of consideration for the position of their user."
Carrying a comprehensive BEAB Care Approval and RNIB accreditation, the LUDA has advanced thermostatic controls which ensure that showers do not exceed the allowed 41�C for hot shower water. As well as setting the new industry standard for clear LED illumination, its tactile control buttons and audio bleeps give partially-sighted users complete control over the power, temperature and water flow settings. The LUDA is moulded from glare-reducing material and shaped to minimise direct reflections making its market-leading indicator lights clear and easy to view. Shower head, soap dish and shelf are fully adjustable to accommodate both standing and seated users and the whole unit has been designed to offer a stylish addition to any bathroom.
Trialled pre-launch with a leading provider of sheltered housing, the LUDA is now fully available.
Ruth Bury, Sales & Marketing Director at AKW adds: "Our aim was to provide an electric shower unit that was precisely tailored to the care market. At the same time, we wanted to offer something that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. The LUDA is winning specification up and down the country and has received many complimentary comments both from the trade and from end users."
11th March 2011