Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
  Building & construction
  Coal & steel
  Industrial processes & robotics
  Materials & products
  Nanotechnology
  Standards, measures & testing
  Other
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lichtenstein
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Madagascar
  Malta
  Mexico
  Montenegro
  Morocco
  Namibia
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Senegal
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Swaziland
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tanzania
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Uganda
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


   Industrial research

Last Update: 21-11-2012  
Related category(ies):
Health & life sciences  |  Industrial research  |  Success stories

 

Countries involved in the project described in the article:
Austria  |  Denmark  |  Germany  |  Hungary
Add to PDF "basket"

ISU-DEP – Patient hygiene: a new bedside manner

The call of nature and bath time can be challenging endeavours for older people and the bedridden. A novel 'dry shower' and height-adjustable, fully automated portable hygienic toilet could help give those with restricted mobility more autonomy and dignity. Final prototypes are expected by June 2013.

©Fotolia
© Fotolia

Older people can have difficulty bathing and going to the toilet, as can others with impaired mobility, such as the handicapped or hospital patients. The latest statistics indicate that one in ten people over 65 have difficulty bathing, over half of whom receive help from a carer or relative.

Normally, a carer assists people who experience such difficulties either by taking them to the bathroom and helping them bathe or use the toilet or, for the more immobile, by bathing them in their bed and using a bedpan or commode.

However, these traditional methods might entail a certain loss of dignity as well as presenting practical problems. Bathing in bed often leaves the bedclothes and mattress wet, while bedpans and toilet chairs are malodorous and have to be emptied, which can also affect hygiene.

Re-personalising personal hygiene

Intelligent Sanitary Unit for Disabled and Elderly People (ISU-DEP), an EU-backed research project, is developing a smart sanitary system designed to increase the autonomy of people with restricted mobility, as well as ease the burden on carers. With nearly €1 million in EU support, ISU-DEP has developed a prototype 'dry shower' and height-adjustable, fully automated portable toilet.

"The technology we have developed will improve the quality of life of older people and patients," explains Gottfried Seisenbacher, a researcher at the Vienna University of Technology (AT). "It will also make life easier for carers and health-care professionals."

The ISU-DEP project has created a system which is divided into several individual components. First, there is the docking station, which is hooked up to the electricity, water and sewage, and recharges the shower and toilet units and disposes of their waste. It is usually located in the bathroom, under the washbasin. "This design ensures that the system can be installed easily without having to remodel the building," notes Seisenbacher.

Although a single service module was originally envisioned for the shower and the toilet, the prototype developed includes two separate modules. This would allow them to be sold separately and addresses a key psychological concern. "Even though a single module is completely sanitary, our users told us that with only one service module they would have the impression they were washing with dirty toilet water," points out Seisenbacher.

The service modules hold most of the technology, such as water tanks, pumps, hoses, pipes, batteries and the electronics. They are connected to the portable toilet and bed shower, which can be wheeled around as required.

The most innovative aspect of the ISU-DEP technology – developed through collaboration among six partners from four EU Member States – is the shower unit. "The 'dry shower' is a unique idea, and the professionals we consulted had never heard of anything like it," Seisenbacher says. The shower is "dry" because the head – which is disposable to ensure hygiene – not only sprays water but sucks it all up, without any spillage, before it can run or drip away.

"This avoids having to change the bed sheets, which reduces carer effort," explains Seisenbacher. "Because after washing the skin is only a little damp and the bed remains dry, it is much more comfortable for the person being showered who usually has to endure half an hour of lying in a wet bed while being washed."

The toilet is also an innovative piece of technology. "As far as we know, there is no mobile, automatic flushing toilet available on the market," observes Seisenbacher. He also notes that the toilet is the first to have a height-adjustable seat, which enables those with impaired mobility to lower and raise themselves more easily.

Small ideas, enormous potential

ISU-DEP is financed by the Seventh Framework Programme's 'Research for SMEs' theme. With four SMEs onboard, the project builds on a previous EU-funded project which involved the Vienna University of Technology, the Friendly Rest Room (FRR), and a patented design for a no-spill bed shower developed by the Austrian SME partner.

The ISU-DEP consortium has already built a functional prototype and is now creating a 'field test' prototype to look and function like the final marketable product.

Owing to the enormous production costs involved in hand-building, the partners currently intend only to market it to care homes, hospitals and other professional facilities, because it will be unaffordable for home use at first.

Nevertheless, according to Seisenbacher, they are exploring ways to lower production costs and develop a mass production line, to reduce the price of the technology for professional use and help develop a home version of the product.

The partners are confident – based on user feedback – that the range of ISU-DEP products will find a good market; they have already set up a distribution network across Europe. "We're still looking for SMEs to distribute the product in a few countries, such as the UK, Spain and Portugal," says Seisenbacher, adding that the final prototypes will be ready by June 2013.

Project details

  • Participants: Austria (coordinator), Hungary, Germany, Denmark
  • FP7 Proj. N° 262286
  • Total costs: € 1.2 million
  • EU contribution: € 935 674
  • Duration: November 2010 to April 2013

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Project web site

Project information on CORDIS

Contacts
Unit A1 - External & internal communication,
Directorate-General for Research & Innovation,
European Commission
Tel : +32 2 298 45 40
  Top   Research Information Center