Patient care: Taking a step into the future

Senior Associate of International Sales Department from OG Wellness, Mr David Hale (centre), demonstrating use of the TUTTI Wheelchair Integrated Automated Bathing System. With him are (from left) Mr Masumitsu Tokuda, General Manager of International
Senior Associate of International Sales Department from OG Wellness, Mr David Hale (centre), demonstrating use of the TUTTI Wheelchair Integrated Automated Bathing System. With him are (from left) Mr Masumitsu Tokuda, General Manager of International Sales Department from OG Wellness, Dr Lee Chien Earn, CEO of Changi General Hospital, and Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State for Health. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Healthcare display showcases assistive devices that also aid nurses, caregivers

Taking a bath is not easy for people who need to use wheelchairs.

A new bathing system, however, allows people who are not mobile to take baths privately without the help of caregivers.

With the Tutti Wheelchair Automated Bathing System, caregivers can wheel patients directly into the bathtub, and let automation do the rest. The bathtub also has mini showerheads to wash the back and shoulders.

The bathing system was the main attraction among 28 high-tech projects from 19 companies that were on display yesterday at a showcase by the Centre for Healthcare Assistive and Robotics Technology, based at Changi General Hospital (CGH).

Also on display was a patient transfer chair that makes it easier for nurses to wheel heavier patients to the washroom, for instance, without having to lift up the patients.

Another project that drew a lot of attention was Rimo, a robot that can go around the wards and allow patients to talk to their doctors through it, among other functions.

The projects on display encompass areas such as patient care enabling technologies, as well as smart ward, autonomous logistics and operations and rehabilitation technologies.

They are aimed mostly at reducing the workload of nurses and caregivers.

Ms Selina Seah, CGH's assistant chief executive for development, said: "It is critical for us to ensure that (nurses) are able to do their work more effectively and remove the manual back-end part of it."

Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat said: "We have to bring in ideas and solutions from other sectors, outside healthcare, and combine them with our medical knowledge and procedures, and see how we can innovate."

Executive director Low Mui Lang of the Salvation Army Peacehaven Nursing Home, which also runs daycare centres, was interested in getting the automated bathtubs for its centres because finding staff to shower its elderly charges can be difficult.

Many people might find the task menial or stressful.

She has to resort to paying staff a "showering allowance", she said.

The Eastern Health Alliance, which oversees institutions such as CGH and Peacehaven Daycare, aims to have eight automated tubs by the third quarter of this year.

Most of the projects are on trial or about to undergo trials. The public can view the projects at The Future of Us exhibition from Wednesday to Feb 28.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Patient care: Taking a step into the future'. Print Edition | Subscribe