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Preparing the ground for independent living

Educating children with disabilities to cope with independent life after school is being given state-of-the-art support.

The Treloar Trust External

The Treloar Trust has completed Vision Treloar’s, a £20m project to create one, nationally recognised, educational and residential centre of expertise for young people, on a single campus.

The latest element is the redevelopment of Gauvain House, to create a purpose-designed communal living environment with state-of-the-art facilities- including the toilets. Thus, eleven Closomat Palma Vita wash & dry toilets have now been fitted in certain en-suites within the building. The toilets compliment eight Palma Vitas already installed in Treloar’s Evans House residential unit. 

The Treloar Trust InternalLooking like, and capable of being used as, a conventional WC, the Palma Vita has in-built facilities which automatically wash and dry the user after toileting. Therefore the user does not have to manually clean- or be cleaned by a carer, and achieves a consistent, high level of cleanliness/personal hygiene when going to the toilet. Unlike similar toilets, the Closomat can be personalised- at initial installation and later- to individual needs: over 150,000 permutations of operating mechanisms, support systems, seats, douches, height adjustability exist.

Treloar’s Facilities Manager Chloe Stoneham explained, “The Closomats have proved beneficial in enhancing levels of independence for students in Evans House. It was logical to offer our students similar opportunities in Gauvain House, so that we ‘future-proof provision of the most appropriate accommodation for individual student needs.”

The Palma Vita toilets fitted at Treloar’s mean that now over 50,000 Closomats are in place across the UK, in individual’s homes, specialist and mainstream schools, care establishments and public venues. Many are in daily use 30+ years after first being installed.

Closomat has 55 years’ experience in delivering personal hygiene solutions. The company has developed a range of equipment and support services that today meets every need, including height adjustable basins, and changing tables.

Uniquely, the products are backed up by in-house support, from assessment of requirements, design of an accessible bathroom or washroom to legislative and budgetary requirements, installation and commissioning of equipment, and lifetime maintenance. Full details of equipment are available here.

Self-help extends right through to ‘spending a penny’

A purpose-built Centre to provide therapy, exercise and support for people with neurological conditions is optimising client ability to self-help - right through to toileting.

The MS Therapy Centre has just upgraded its WC facilities at the Mayfield Road, Huntingdon Centre, to enable anyone using their services to go to the toilet with little, or no, help. Its solution, after consultation with staff and clients, has been to install two Closomat Palma Vita automatic shower wash & dry toilets.

“The toilets have been such a good buy we are now fund-raising to install another in our third disabled toilet at the Centre,” Centre manager Fiona Arthurs said.

“We wanted something that anyone could use, either able bodied or disabled, with minimum of fuss, and our disabled users had to be convinced it would provide what they needed. Those with limited movement appreciate the side flush bars, as they can use their elbow to use the toilet, negating the need for help, which increases their confidence and self-worth. 

“We thoroughly investigated the options on the market, but felt the Closomat best met all our members’ needs, with the peace of mind of after-sales service: in fact, we had a slight problem with one of the toilets, but the engineer came out speedily, sorted the problem immediately and took the time to explain to some clients who had not seen the toilet before how it worked.”


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Centre of excellence extends support…

A support facility already acknowledged by its local health professionals as 'a Centre of Excellence' is taking a holistic approach to extensions to its services....

MS Support Centre

The MS(Multiple Sclerosis) Support Centre in Saltney, near Chester, provides therapy and support for people with all neurological conditions. To cope with increasing demand for its services, it has expanded into adjoining premises, and adapted them to address the needs of its 40 visitors a day- including provision of specialist toilet facilities.

The new toilet is large enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and features a Closomat 'wash and dry 'toilet, with bespoke accessories of a 50mm plinth and touch-sensitive hand switch. The Closomat's integral douche and drier mean that people with neurological conditions can toilet with little or no help, as it eliminates the need to wipe, or be wiped, clean after toileting. Inclusion of the plinth facilitates transfer for people in a wheelchair, and the touch sensitive switch enables those with reduced manual and/or body strength to operate the toilet without assistance.

Paul Etherington, who helps run the Centre, observes, " We have six toilets at the Centre, but at busy times there could be queues, which is particular challenge for people with neurological conditions as bladder and bowel function can be affected, so provision of enough, suitable toilets is a priority.

"Some of our regular visitors have Closomats at home, and find them very helpful, giving them greater independence; the more we can offer people, the better, so we thought it would therefore be sensible to include one when we were adapting our new facilities. We chose the accessories to further optimise the number of people who could benefit from it. We now plan to install another one in the near future!"

The MS Support Centre aims to help people with a neurological condition and their carers optimise their sense of wellbeing and promote their independence and participation in community life. It has been described by Flintshire Health Board as a Centre of Excellence in its delivery of support to its members. Whilst it began life providing support for people with MS, it now accommodates other degenerative conditions.

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Total approach to a new generation of independence…

New life is being given to the site of a former primary school in an award-winning development of incorporating flexibility to accommodate changing needs.


Wales & West Housing Association (WWHA) has turned the site of a former primary school into its first development to combine both apartments for general needs residents and bespoke bungalows for people with physical and sensory impairment, designed to optimise their independence. The combination of self-contained accommodation with provision of flexible care and support helped it win the North Wales Building Excellence Award Best Social Affordable Housing Development Flintshire.

Key equipment to minimise reliance on carers at the £2m, 19-home Greenfield development include automatic opening doors, electronic hoists, height adjustable basins- and a Closomat Palma 'wash and dry' toilet.

Explained Occupational Therapist for the project, Sue Smith (Flintshire County Council), "One of the tenants has complex physical disabilities, and uses a very specialised wheelchair and shower chair. It was vital throughout to make sure the tenants had as much independence as possible- especially when undertaking basic personal hygiene. This tenant had used a Closomat toilet with confidence for many years in his previous home. Due to him now needing a very specialist supportive shower chair for use over the toilet coupled with his confidence in using a Closomat, it was felt the Closomat was the best solution to meet his needs. Because it can also be used as a 'conventional' WC, it simultaneously helps us meet another objective of flexible solutions for changing needs and changing residents. "

Robin Tuffley, marketing manager for Closomat, elaborates, "Going to the toilet is something we all do, and on average eight times a day! If you can't do that properly, and be assured of being clean afterwards, it has huge psychological and health impacts: it means you have to rely on a carer to help you, affecting your independence, dignity and privacy, and poses hygiene and infection risks.

"In our day-to-day dealings with clients, both users and professionals such as OTs tell us alternatives such as units which bolt on to an existing toilet, just don't work properly if you use a mobile shower chair. They either can't manoeuvre the chair accurately over the toilet, or the unit's douche isn't at the right angle to effectively clean them. The Closomat is the only 'wash and dry' toilet that was developed specifically for disabled people: integration with shower chairs was one of the issues we considered- and addressed- in the design process."

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Active lifehouse

LifehouseLifehouse, the most comprehensive facility for independent living in the North West, is continuing its trailblazing with Liverpool Disabled Living Centre's most active programme of events since moving to new facilities.

Lifehouse is a partnership between Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Community Health, and the centre offers a range of services for the elderly and disabled, under one roof and in a fully accessible building on Brunswick Business Park, Liverpool. Within Lifehouse, the Disabled Living Centre team offers free, independent information, assessment and advice on equipment that can improve the independence and safety of older and disabled people in their everyday lives. The Centre also features permanent displays of over 2000 independent living aids, and working equipment such as a Closomat Palma Vita 'wash and dry' toilet, riser/ recliner chairs and height adjustable bath lifts, so people can see and physically try apparatus out, with the guidance of highly specialist Occupational Therapists, and make the right choice to optimize their independence and safety.

To enhance accessibility to the service, Liverpool Disabled Living Centre at Lifehouse is running a busy schedule of activity, including Open Days throughout the year, plus equipment awareness sessions focusing on specific areas ranging from toileting to telecare. The Open Days will feature specialist advice on walking aids, chairs and beds, telephone equipment, benefits, continence and consumer issues, supported by a variety of voluntary organizations and other agencies working within the City. There will also be a number of themed events organized throughout the year including a Children's Equipment & Information Day.

Judith Cookson, Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist at Lifehouse, elaborated, "The Disabled Living Centre staff aims to provide free and impartial advice to service users on the range of products and services available to meet their needs. As far as possible, people can be provided, there and then, with the smaller items of equipment that will make a difference to their ability to live independently and safely. For equipment such as the Closomat toilet, we can at least start the process at our events towards arranging an individual assessment to deliver that enhanced independence."

Full details of Lifehouse’s programme of open days and staff awareness training is available from the centre in Summers Road, Liverpool L3 4BL, telephoning the DLC on 0151 296 7742 (minicom 0151 296 7748)

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