Care Opinion

clos-o-mat glenashling lima


By Robin Tuffley, marketing manager @ Clos-o-Mat


Budget or cost? What’s in a word? We talk about care budgets, the cost of care but do we need to be clearer in our interpretation, especially when balancing the capital cost of assistive technology against the provision of a person to do the same job?


Of course, if you look at the capital cost as a cold figure on a piece of paper, and weigh that up against the hourly rate you pay staff, it seems a ‘no brainer’: providing someone appears far and away the lower cost.


But is it, in practicality? The capital equipment is a one-off cost. It doesn’t repeat daily, weekly, monthly, annually, for however long the recipient needs that care support. Unlike care staff wages.


I’m not saying we replace people with machines. But there are some things- such as intimate care i.e. going to the toilet- that perhaps equipment can do better, and/or to a consistent standard, which give the recipient more dignity, independence, and free the care provider for other duties, where perhaps assistive technology isn’t a practical solution.


When you do the maths, it’s a ‘no brainer’ in the right circumstances, to choose assistive technology. Over a year, it is, certainly as far as toileting is concerned, far and away cheaper to install the equipment than provide care support.


To demonstrate: assume care staff wages of £7.80 per hour, and two staff required to take each client to the bathroom and assist for each 15 minute toilet trip, of which they undertake an average of 5 trips per client per day (NB we go to the loo on average 8 times a day!) Therefore staff spend 2.50 hours/client/day on toileting. Even if only four clients in your home need toilet help, be it to get on and off the toilet, and/or to clean afterwards, that means in effect you are paying one member of staff to spend the whole day on toilet duty. In a home where 30 residents need toilet help, staff costs alone equate to £213,525 a year (£7117.50 each individual per annum) (source: Garry Gavigan, Glenashling).


A wash & dry (bidet) toilet, or a toilet lifter, costs under £3000. When you set that against staff wages, the equipment is paid for in less than a month and a half, staff are released from some, if not all, daytime toilet assistance, enabling them to undertake other duties, giving you better use of resources. The saving on staff costs could help address the shortfall between local authority funding and actual costs. The equipment cost can potentially be offset against tax.


That is purely a financial argument. How do you put a price on a client’s feeling of dignity, independence? Would YOU like someone to wipe your bottom?  Equally, would you like to have to wipe someone’s bottom?



There are other benefits too. Inevitably, whatever care is being given, it is only as good as the person giving it. Its quality, and consistency, can vary hugely. That still applies to bottoms! As I said above, would you like to wipe someone’s bottom? What if they’ve had an upset stomach that has affected their bowel movements, had diarrhoea? It’s going to take a lot longer to get them clean, and won’t be pleasant for client or care giver. What if the client or care worker manages to get faeces on their hands, under nails, and perhaps doesn’t wash their hands effectively- or at all? What if not all the faeces is wiped off, so it soils underwear, or chafes skin?


But a wash & dry toilet does it all, to the same high standard, at the push of a button.


So in some instances, maybe there is a big saving to be achieved by looking at the bigger picture, the budget to provide support for a person, not just the stark coldness of one ‘cost’ compared to another…..


Clos-o-Mat:, email: tel: 0161 969 1199