The DSDC is delighted to announce the award of DSDC Accredited Product status to the AKW SmartCare Lever electric shower. Whilst over a thousand DSDC products have achieved DSDC accredited status, the AKW SmartCare Lever is noteworthy for being the first electric shower to meet the standards required by the accreditation process.
The DSDC Product Accreditation Process
As the only known formal program of recognising dementia inclusive design in manufactured products, the DSDC’s product accreditation standard provides confidence for designers, specifiers, and carers, when selecting products for environments intended to be age and dementia inclusive.
Reviews for new products are typically reviewed by three reviewers. This always includes two of DSDC’s professional experts in design, and care, along with a third reviewer selected due to their specialist practice and/or research expertise relevant to the product (e.g., assistive technology or advanced care nursing). Before assessing any specific product, the reviewers search published literature for research evidence, as well as any relevant ‘grey’ literature, such as practice guidance, industry regulation, or other topics, relevant to the type of product under review.
Like the DSDC’s Building Accreditation program, the DSDC Product Accreditation program follows a rigorous process. In a first round of assessment, reviewers each undertake separate evaluations of the product, recording their views on whether and how well the product addresses various criteria organised under ten DSDC Product Accreditation Principles. The ten principles consider whether the product:
- looks familiar and non-institutional
- preserves dignity and sustains abilities
- offers a safe and unthreatening world
- supports hearing and seeing well
- designed with optimal colour and contrast
- designed for the individual
- supports a good night’s sleep and maintains circadian rhythm
- supports the caregiver
- supports one-to-one engagement
- supports text-based communication.
In a subsequent round of assessment, the reviewers discuss the product comparing their first-round reviews. Though the reviewer discusses details of their first-round findings, including if and then and why they have come differing conclusions, it is worth noting that the scoring matrix does not require the reviewers to agree. Thereafter final revised comments, scores, and resulting accreditation status are set.
Why is the AKW SmartCare Lever shower is suitable for people with dementia?
The assessment process for AKW SmartCare Lever looked at the appearance, functionality, and user experience across the stages of dementia, relying on evidence-based criteria to provide feedback to the product designers. Below we include an overview of the reviewers' responses, and the rational for the product achieving DSDC Accredited Product status
The SmartCare Lever shower consists of a white-coloured main shower unit with a contrasting mid-grey lever handle. Operation can be as simple a pushing the central on/off button, as the product can be set up to automatically achieve the users preferred temperature and water flow rate. Of course, if required the water temperature can be further controlled by turning the lever according to clear visual indicators on the body of the shower unit. All of this combines to optimise independent use of the shower by a person with dementia – helping them to continued personal self-care for longer, helping to maintain dignity and autonomy.
The product includes a high-performance temperature regulating value and a phased shut down, providing both protection from scalding and legionnaires disease. Meanwhile, the stainless/chrome shower riser rail - to which the flexible shower head/hose is usually fixed – can also be swapped out for a weight bearing grab rail (up to 150kg) that is available in three distinct colours. The three available colours of the weight-bearing rail are manufactured to different tonal values (LRVs) to make it easy to ensure that the rail contrasts with the wall behind, so that it can be seen easily by people with dementia or sight loss. These features provide high degrees of unobtrusive safety, without introducing unnecessarily stigmatising elements to the bathroom space, and sustaining familiar aesthetics and domestic spatial qualities that will help people with dementia to remain confident and at ease.
The experience of dementia is different for every individual, just as it is at various stages of cognitive decline. However, the AWK SmartCare Lever shower has been well designed to cater for a wide array of disabilities and age-related impairments, and with its DSDC accreditation we believe it is also suitable for people with dementia, whether at home, in residential care, or a hospital setting. Overall, this product is likely to help people with dementia to live better, healthier, and more independent lives.