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Field Test of a User Friendly Toilet Prototype

(December 2004 - February 2005, as part of FRR research project)

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Overview

Often toilets in the semi public area do not meet the needs of persons with functional limitations. The EU funded Friendly Rest Room (FRR) project developed new types of assistive toilets in order to provide new means for increasing autonomy for disabled and/or old persons. One of the toilet prototypes was installed at a day care centre for MS patients in Vienna in order to verify if it actually is able to improve the patientís quality of life.

Methods

A toilet system with adjustable height and tilt steered via a hand held remote control was installed as a replacement of a conventional toilet in an existing toilet room. The height of toilet could be changed between 44.6 cm and 76.8 cm, the tilt between 0 and 6.5 degrees. A hidden monitoring unit logged the movements of the toilet, the status of the buttons on the remote control, the door (open/close) and the alarm call (on/off) every 100 ms. The users wore mid range RFID cards around their necks which were read contact less when the user was sitting on the toilet. This allowed assigning the logged data to an individual user. Additionally to the technical data gathering sociological data were collected by carrying out participative observation. ADL scores from test participants were collected and field notes were taken by the researchers. The day centre is open each working day from 8am to 4pm. MS patients partly are using wheelchairs, partly rollators, partly crutches.

Closed Door with new type of door handle seen from outside Open Door with new type of door handle
Entrance door with FRR door handle on outside (design: Landmark)

cave next to toilet for computer toilet with adustable height and tilt of seat frame antenna for RFID
From left to right: cave for FRR control unit, RFID reader, remote maintenance, link to nurse call,
height and tilt adjustable toilet system with horizontal bars,
behind the cover of toilet the RFID antenna for FRR smart cards is mounted

hand held remote control with 6 buttons FRR smart cards
Hand held remote control (6 Buttons for: height up/down, tilt forward/backward, flush, alarm)
FRR Smart Cards (RFID)

Panorama Views

For showing the environment of the field test in more details, two 360 degrees photographs are available. One is taken directly in front of the toilet door, the other is taken from inside the toilet room. Note: Your browser needs a Java Applet Viewer to present the pictures. Click here for outside and hier for inside view.

360 degrees preview view infront of toilet room
Panorama view from outside the toilet room.

360 degrees preview view from inside of toilet room
Panorama view from inside the toilet room.

Preliminary Results

The field test was carried out from December 2004 to February 2005 with a total duration of 59 days, thereof (due to holidays and weekends) 39 days with usage of the toilet. 29 primary users (MS patients) and 12 secondary users (nurses) participated. 316 toilet sessions took place, whereof 149 (47.2%) could be identified via RFID cards. Number of toileting events per day: min 2, max 14, average 8.1. The toilet tilt was moved between 0 degrees and 6.5 degrees, the height of the toilet between 43.6 cm and 67.9 cm. Outcome measurement based on QUEST delivered satisfaction rate of approx. 80%. The MS patients experienced increased autonomy and a higher level of dignity (e.g. being able to autonomously call the nurse via held remote control), and increased safety (e.g. better contact between feet and floor due to adjustable height).

usage of toilet
Usage of the toilet per day

Visualisation of logfile
Example of visualisation of logged data. Among others it shows actual height and tilt of toilet, pressed buttons (e.g. flush, nurse call), status of entrance door (open/closed) and the number of the recognised FRR smart cards

Discussion and Presentation of First Results

It could be shown that a height and tilt adjustable toilet system actually is providing a higher quality of life for MS patients in daily life of a day care centre. For details please check the presentations given at the final conference of the FRR consortium:

user board user board during final conference
User Board during presentation at final conference, March 17, 2005 at Caritas Socialis, Vienna. From left to right: Robert Schlathau, Christine Pauli, Brigitte Fink, Angelika Freist, Sonja Adolf and Ramona Rosenthal

Preliminary Conclusions and Ongoing Activities

As the installed toilet system has proven to actually enhance the quality of life of users it was decided to leave the system in daily use at the day care centre even after completion of the evaluation phase. (Contact: Ramona Rosenthal, email: ramona.rosenthal@cs.or.at)

The detailed data records are currently (February 2006) still waiting for being analysed. We are working on getting funding for corresponding publication of final results. (Contact: Paul Panek, email: frr@fortec.tuwien.ac.at)

Press Releases, Reports in Media and Publications

Further material is available on request (contact: Paul Panek, email: frr@fortec.tuwien.ac.at).

Contact Persons of Involved Institutions

Logo of Caritas Socialis  external link Multiple Sclerosis Day Care Centre of Caritas Socialis, contacts:
      MS Day Care Centre: Ramona Rosenthal, email: ramona.rosenthal@cs.or.at and
      Public Relations: Sabina Dirnberger, email: sabina.dirnberger@cs.or.at

Logo of Austrian MS Society  external link Austrian Multiple Sclerosis Society,
      contact: Robert Schlathau, email: R.Schlathau@viennaairport.com

Logo of EURAG  external link EURAG - European Federation of Older Persons,
      contact: Gerhard Teissl, email: frr@eurag-europe.org

Logo of fortec Rehabilitation Technology  fortec - Research Group on Rehabilitation Technology, Vienna University of Technology,
      contact: Paul Panek, email: frr@fortec.tuwien.ac.at

Acknowledgements

Logo of FRR - Friendly Rest Room Project  This field test was carried out in the framework of the Friendly Rest Room research project which partly was funded by the European Union as project FRR - QLRT-2001-00458 in the quality of life programme of 5th Framework Programme.
For a list of consortium partners involved in the FRR project click here.

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