Wash 'N' Go
Many of us in the limb different community make use of bidet lavatories for personal hygiene. That's fine when we're at home, but travelling can pose extra challenges. Step forward Ramesh Lad - a thalidomide survivor living in Canada - who has put his undoubted creative and innovative talents to good use by developing a device that we can all take with us.
For people with multiple limb deficiencies, bidets such a Clos-o-Mat, Geberit, Nova Bidet, Kohler Toilet seats or the Bio-Bidet are efficient, time saving and very hygienic pieces of equipment that serve an excellent purpose.
While these bidets provide a level of independence and dignity to people who need to use them, they are designed as a permanent fixture - installed in the bathroom at home or in residential facilities. They are not readily available in hotels, restaurants, cafés, public washrooms or in most people's homes.
This can become a major factor for some people who rely on these specialized bidets when considering being away from home for a few days or longer. It may lead to individuals having to rely on carers for more assistance with bathroom hygiene or longer than normal bathroom breaks when away from home.
I speak of the above from personal experience and although I have enjoyed travelling a lot over the years, there is always a little sense of relief, excuse the pun, when I return home to my bidet and the thought of how comfortable I will feel each day after using it.
During the planning for a trip to India, one of my major concerns was about managing bathrooms and, more importantly, staying in places where toilet tissue may not be as readily available. I had two choices: either pack a suitcase full of toilet tissue or make something that was similar to my bidet at home but would be completely portable.
I made a list of the requirements for a portable bidet:
- The container had to be of light material and able to hold water
- The water pump had to be small and easy to power
- The power source for the pump needed to be independent and not rely on wall-mount plugs
- The power source needed to be re-chargeable
- The device needed to be capable of being used either by hand or secured to a toilet for easier use
- The device had to be dismantled easily, to prevent causing any concerns when going through any type of security check in public spaces like airports
Based on the above criteria, I started with an aluminium drink bottle which had a capacity of 750ml. I guessed that this size would be enough to last for a 30 - 40 second wash. While this doesn't sound like long, after researching how long I would use my home bidet, I knew 45 seconds or less would be sufficient.
The models developed and shown have a height of 22.8 cm and width of 3.8 cm. The weight is just over 1.8 kg when empty and 2.5 kg when filled with water. I am currently working on using different material for the container, which will hopefully reduce the weight by 45% or more. This is a realistic reduction as my prototype weighed just under 1 kg when filled.
During the development process, I have made several devices by cutting up aluminium drinking bottles and experimenting with a variety of water pumps, a 12 volt battery and various types of plastic tubing. The first few prototypes were functional but difficult to hold, unable to stand freely and aesthetically not very good - in fact they would have had little chance of getting through any airport security check without a SWAT team pinning me to the ground, with severe pat downs and probably worse!
My third prototype was in two parts simply because I needed a base cover to protect the pump and also to allow the bottle to stand. Although the battery was still exposed and has to be secured using Velcro and hockey tape, the bottle has served me well and I have taken it with me on various excursions, including camping and an outhouse.
The most current model I had made from scratch and, although the material used to make the container is heavy, it is still the most functional, compact, aesthetically pleasing and practical as it is able to stand independently and also hook onto the wheelchair if necessary.
What's next? I would like to work on developing a lighter weight container, maybe plastic or aluminium, while keeping the current design. Secondly, I would like to develop a better nozzle for the spray. Finally, I am working on developing a wand device that can be attached to the toilet rim that would allow the user to use the bidet with little effort.
I would really welcome the opportunity to work with any manufacturers or designers as I feel this is an assistive device that would be beneficial to a wide range of people with disabilities and it would allow a new level of independence in an area of personal hygiene.
Tags: Bidet Toilet Lavatory Hygiene Travel Invention Innovation Investor Device Washing Article