Top specialists in adapting housing for the elderly and less able chose a unique shower/pump combination developed by two of the shower industry’s market leaders – Mira Showers and Whale, the specialist pump manufacturers – to produce a home suitable for a wheelchair user.
The installer, EffectAble, is one of the UK’s designers and installers of aids and adaptations for the elderly and less able and selected the Advance Flex Extra shower – part of the range of Advance electric showers from Mira Showers – and the Instant Match Wireless Pump.
The apartment adapted is in a multi-storey building, Verney House, owned by Westminster City Council and operated by CityWest Homes, which had commissioned Able 2 Occupational Therapy Services. Able 2 worked in conjunction EffectAble and together they surveyed the property, which required pumped drainage to create a level access shower because it was not feasible to create gravity drainage through the floor.
The Advance Flex Extra shower and Instant Match Wireless Pump combination is specifically designed to simplify installing or retro-fitting a wetroom-style bathroom particularly where conventional gravity-fed drainage is not possible, such as apartment bathroom adaptations and where level access is needed.
“We use the best products on the market to deliver the most reliable solution over the long-term,” said John Range, Managing Director of EffectAble, which also maintains the adaptation for five years after installation.
The wireless technology was best suited to the adaptation, says Range, because there was no need to change the appearance of the building by installing sensor cable trunking. Reliability was also increased because there is no requirement for cabling or flow sensors behind walls. Another big plus was the flood reduction feature: if the pump stops working the shower switches itself off.
When the shower is in use, the integral sensors communicate wirelessly to match the rate at which the pump drains the water to the shower’s flow rate so that the pump is both efficient and suction noise at the gulley is minimal.
The pump slows down when the shower is turned off but continues to clear any remaining water from the wetroom floor or tray and then, 15 minutes later, switches back on to drain any water that may have pooled. This two-way communication between shower and pump also helps prevent any risk of flooding as the shower stops if the pump’s power supply cuts out.
Wireless technology makes the pump and shower combination extremely adaptable while streamlining installation, commissioning and reduces maintenance. The installer can fit the pump wherever it is most convenient because there is no physical electrical connection between the shower unit and the pump.
So the pump can be up to 5 metres away from the shower, with no trunking or conduits to worry about, saving time and giving a tidier finish. In this case, the full adaptation of the flat took three weeks – including an adapted kitchen.
There are four stages to installation: connect the power to the Instant Match transformer, turn the shower on to full cold, turn the power on for the shower with the pull cord and simply press and hold the transformer test button.
The shower will emit an audible beep and the transformer light will blink green to indicate successful pairing. Maintenance is reduced because, once registered, the two units are paired even if there is a power cut the built-in memory continues to save the unique digital serial number that links Advance to the Whale pump, and also prevents any interference from any other wireless devices in the vicinity.
Adapted from Mira’s existing Advance Flex range of electric showers, the Advance Flex Extra Wireless shares the range’s strong credentials for the care market, being endorsed by the RNIB. Designed especially for the visually impaired, the shower features a large, colour contrasted rotary lever, tactile raised areas, a large on/off button, backlit buttons and an audible click on the temperature lever so it is easy to use. The push button on/off switch also means that the user can leave the power and temperature controls at their preferred settings.
To improve safety and mobility in the showering area, the Advance Flex Extra has an extra-long slide bar that is also easily adjusted for height because the friction clamp bracket can be operated with just one hand - a feature that occupational therapists consider to be ‘inclusive’. The rotary lever that controls temperature is fitted with a loop so it can be operated easily by those with limited dexterity. The shower hose – 2m long – is also designed so that carers can easily assist in showering.
Safety while showering is also assured by Mira’s own Advanced Temperature Limit (ATL) technology, which gives eight different maximum temperature settings including a BEAB Care setting and by phased shutdown. This not only protects the shower’s next user by flushing out hot water from the tank but also reduces limescale, while the four spray showerhead has rub clean rubber nozzles for easy cleaning.