Older people often have their homes fitted with daily living aids like bathroom grab rails, bath-boards, stair rails, raised toilet seats, and chair raisers.
Yet 30 per cent of this equipment never gets used because it is a bad fit for the surroundings or the person.
Measuring the furniture the person uses is key to getting aids that fit right. But taking these measurements is a complicated job and there are no uniform national guidelines to follow.
“The lack of standardised guidance can lead to inaccurate measurements,” said occupational therapy lecturer Georgia Spiliotopoulou.
“Inaccurate measurements may lead to poor fit between the equipment, the person and their environment. This can cause people to abandon their equipment, costing them their safety and quality of life.”
Georgia and her team at Brunel University London developed step-by-step instructions for taking the full range of measurements including the dimensions of the bath, bed, toilet, chairs and stairs.
They put their new set of instructions to the test on health professionals and older people themselves at Stoke-on-Trent Mobility and Independent Living Centre. They compared measurements taken with and without the guidance by 25 health care professionals with different roles and levels of experience and 26 older people aged between 60 and 89 who need or already use daily living aids.
Their research published by British Journal of Occupational Therapy, shows these new guidelines enable health care professionals and older people to measure furniture and fittings accurately and reliably. Following the guidelines they were also able to take 90% of the measurements that they couldn’t without it.
“The results were very positive,” said Georgia. “Its use by specialists could promote a more timely, safe, consistent and transparent way of assessing and fitting assistive devices.”
“Service users or carers could use the guidance to measure their environment then communicate the results to specialists so they can take the best decision about the right piece of equipment,” she added. “This allows service users greater control and might reduce equipment abandonment and waiting lists”.
The new guidance is available at the Disabled Living Foundation and Shaw Trust website
Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
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