How mobile shower units are making life easier at a Montreal long-term care home

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WATCH: Staff and residents at the Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare Centre – a long-term care home in Montreal -- are thrilled. They say the recent purchase of two mobile bath units has vastly improved the quality of life for residents and made working easier. Global’s Phil Carpenter explains how the new device is changing lives. – Aug 25, 2021

Arlene Goldberg’s 88-year-old mother mother Lily Kroll broke her hip three years ago.

Her daughter moved her to the Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare Centre after that, but soon, Goldberg said her mom broke her other hip.

“[She] cognitively totally declined,” Goldberg told Global News from her mother’s room. “So now she doesn’t walk, she doesn’t really talk, she’s in a wheelchair.”

Kroll is completely dependent on staff for routine things like taking a bath, which involves moving her to a shower room, which isn’t pleasant for Kroll.

“She doesn’t like to be moved and manipulated,” explained Goldberg. “Her skin is very thin, she has very bad arthritis.”
Staff say bathing can be challenging for some patients.

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“So there [is] a lot of transfer, movement, positioning,” said head nurse Mélanie Gauthier, “and when they are in pain or confused or anxious, it’s very difficult.”

Programme coordinator Daniela Vrabie agrees, saying the experience can can even be traumatic.

“For some of our residents, the shower room brings up some wartime memories,” she pointed out.

So management found what they say is a solution — mobile baths.

“For sure their dignity is always respected,” said Gauthier, “because they are in their room. “We respect their rhythm, we respect their emotion, their stress, their anxiety. It’s very intimate.”

Global News witnessed as two patient attendants bathed Kroll.

The bath unit, filled with water, was pushed to the elderly woman’s room.

She was washed in a waterproof material, like a foldable bathtub, on the bed. They slowly, strategically, washed her body, a little bit at a time, using temperature-controlled water coming from a hose attached to the bath unit.

There’s even the option to play music from the unit.

Some employees joked that they’re a little envious of the residents and liken the experience to a spa.

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“I would like it,” laughed Gauthier, “depending who’s giving the shower.”

Two of the $14,000 units were purchased for this home by the Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare Foundation earlier this year.  Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre, another seniors residence, also has two, purchased by their foundation.

Goldberg says the mobile bath has made a difference for her mother.

“I’ll say to her ‘mom did you have a good shower this morning?'” she recalled. “She’s like, ‘yes.’ Before she didn’t want to go to the shower.”

Goldberg believes her mother’s mind is now more at ease.

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