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Intelligent Sanitary Unit for Disabled and Elderly People

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Smart portable sanitation units

Increasingly ageing populations, particularly in Europe, have highlighted the need for mobile smart sanitation units that lower the burden of care for caregivers. This will improve personal hygiene and quality of life for the elderly and disabled.

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In the EU alone, around 20 million people are currently in need of care and the numbers are only expected to rise. Current sanitation solutions are not up to the mark when it comes to standards of hygiene, ease-of-use and patient dignity. The EU-funded project 'Intelligent sanitary unit for disabled and elderly people' (ISU-DEP) was initiated to address this need through a combined toileting and washing system. Researchers incorporated key stakeholders such as users, care professionals and experts into a network to provide feedback and evaluate user demands. Along with this, market analysis was also conducted to define specifications and requirements for the sanitary system as well as areas of application such as hospitals, homes and care facilities. Functional prototypes were successfully created of the ISU-DEP sanitation solution and were internally tested. The complete system consists of a mobile bedside toilet, bed-shower, service modules for each and a common-use stationary docking station. The docking station contains the charging unit for the service module batteries, a water heater for the bed-shower, a cold water facility for the toilet and a facility to service both modules. The portable bed-shower has a reusable shower head with disposable shower head attachments. The bedside toilet has a mobile toilet seat and provides motor-driven support for sitting down and rising. An added bonus is the fact that the toilet seat can also be used as a stand-alone unit. Lab and field trial planning were initiated along with prototype redesign for field trials that could not be completed due to unforeseen delays. Patents were obtained for the bed-shower and other components of the ISU-DEP system. Commercialisation of the ISU-DEP system will strengthen the national and international position of participating businesses in the mobile assistive devices arena. This system will lower the burden of care, increase safety and enhance the quality of life of users and their families as well as caregivers. In the future, this system could also be incorporated into smart homes, ambient assisted living and robotic solutions for health care and home care applications.


Portable sanitation unit, smart sanitation, caregiver, personal hygiene, elderly, disabled, toileting, washing, bedside, service modules, docking station, patents

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