When specifying a shower, it is important to consider the safety and wellbeing of the users, particularly if they have additional needs. Certain details and features of a shower have the potential to significantly improve the experience for less able users, so it’s important to take a holistic view at potential solutions. Steve Holton, Strategic Marketing Director at Redring, looks at how specially designed showers can maintain a safe environment, and how the work of relevant charities has assisted product development.
The way a shower operates can significantly affect the experience it offers for users. For example, a shower that incorporates thermostatic technology offers a comfortable and safe showering experience by ensuring the temperature of the water delivered is kept consistent. Fully thermostatic showers compensate for changes to pressure, flow and ambient incoming water temperatures to maintain the pre-set temperature. This extra level of safety eliminates the risk of burns and scalds, which is of particular importance for elderly, vulnerable or young users.
Thermostatic technology is hugely beneficial, but there are many other features that should be taken into consideration when specifying a shower for less able users.
Leading manufacturer Redring is committed to developing solutions that are designed to the highest specification. Having worked with the RNIB to develop the best-selling Selectronic Premier range, as a manufacturer and an organisation we appreciate the level of detail that should be taken into consideration to ensure showering is easy and safe for users.
The RNIB look at seven broad principles that they consider crucial for inclusive design. These are equitable use, flexible in use, simple and intuitive, perceivable information, tolerance for error, low physical error and size and space for approach and use.
This is a considerable amount to take into account when choosing a shower, but using the RNIB’s several principles as a general guide and looking out for their endorsement will help to make an informed decision and ensure more than just the overt features are taken into consideration.
For example, the RNIB summarise simple and intuitive use as “the design must be easy to use and understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, skills or concentration level”. In practise, this takes into consideration a number of different elements of a shower. Using the Selectronic Premier range as an example we can identify numerous features that deliver this inclusive design:
Large buttons ensure they can be located easily and tactile coding allows partially sighted users to differentiate between buttons i.e warmer and cooler
An uncluttered design with space between the buttons allows the correct one to be selected
Contrasting colours on the unit allow important features to stand out, such as grey stripes which contrast against the white casing, framing the controls and making them easier to locate. The area within the grey stripes is a matt finish compared to the white gloss, which again helps to differentiate between the two areas and is also distinguishable by touch
Clear audible feedback ensures users actions are confirmed when a button is pressed
The LED indicator identifies very easily whether the temperature lock is on or off
The use of text rather than symbols is in general preferred by partially sighted people, so having Start/Stop as opposed to an on/off symbol is important
This is just a small sample of the level of detail that has been taken into consideration to ensure that the Selectronic Premier shower is inclusive for everyone to use. But it paints the picture of the types of details contractors and specifiers should be looking for when choosing a shower for less able users.
Responsible manufacturers will have worked with relevant charities and organisations to develop products that go above and beyond standard requirements. Looking in more detail into what the shower offers will ensure the end-user gets the best solution possible.
For more information on Redring’s growing range of instantaneous hot water solutions, visit www.redring.co.uk or call 0344 879 35 86.