Helping turn disability into a positive
One of Britain’s leading disabled actors is turning to assistive technology to help him retain his independence.
Mark Beer, 49, originally from Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire but now of Camden Town, London, has 2nd degree Cerebral Palsy. He has refused to let his health issues impact on his chosen career. As a result, he was the first disabled actor to have a regular leading role on TV (in the BBC’s series Specials), the first disabled children’s presenter for BBC’s Playdays, the first disabled actor to work in a mainstream pantomime, and is now able to be selective over the roles he undertakes. As with any human, passing years are beginning to impact, so he has taken advantage of aids at home to help retain his independence- primarily with the installation of a Closomat Palma Vita wash & dry toilet.
Looking like, and capable of being used as a conventional WC, the Palma Vita has built-in douching and drying. There is no need, if preferred or required, for the user to wipe clean- or be wiped by a carer- with toilet tissue, as the toilet cleans them instead. A raft of accessories from height-adjusting plinths through seats and supports enable it to be tailored to individual requirements, when initially installed and retro-fitted as the user’s needs change.
Mark says, “I have never let my disability limit me, to the point that I worked non-stop for over 30 years! I’ve played Richard III and Romeo through drag queen Bona in Heelz on Wheels to Red Riding Hood’s father in panto. But my body isn’t as strong as it was, so I now choose a bit more what roles I play, and where.
“My spasms are getting stronger now, and are harder to control. My Occupational Therapist suggested a Closomat would help me remain independent at least with my personal care,” explains Mark. “The core Palma is the perfect height for me to transfer to from my wheelchair. I have always tried to turn my disability into a positive- the Closomat means I am completely in control. I don’t need any accessories on it yet to use it easily, but have the reassurance that if my condition worsens, the Closomat can be adapted to accommodate that.”
Manufactured in Britain, the standard Palma Vita is easily operated simply by remaining seated when the user presses the flush pads: simultaneous flushing and douching is followed by warm air drying to ensure the user is cleaned effectively, consistently and hygienically with no hand:body contact. The toilet is unique in being the only unit of its kind developed specifically for disabled people, and with the ability to be accessorised to adapt to user’s changing needs.
Since Closomat were first introduced 55 years ago, over 55,000 have been sold, and fitted in locations from people’s homes through to shopping centres and tourist attractions: there are even several on tall ships.
Closomat is unique in its provision, in-house, of design advice, supply, installation, commissioning and after-sales service & maintenance.
Details of the Palma Vita, Closomat’s additional assistive toilet technologies, plus further case studies from real-life users, can be found here.