What’s the point of getting a shower, if you can only clean your upper body? Or, if you have been getting only sponge baths, would you want only half a bath? Would you want to use a cheap “portable” shower made of PVC that needs to be assembled for use? What if it had a pump labeled with electrocution warnings and recommendations to put the pump in a shoebox to keep it from jumping around on the floor? Sadly, these are “solutions” on the market under the guise of portable showers for individuals with disabilities. But, there are true portable shower units available. Let’s explore this better alternative in more detail!
The FAWSsit™ Portable Shower Solution
In 2004 the FAWSsit™ Portable Shower was invented and patented by Care Giver Support Products. It was designed to be a complete shower for individuals in wheelchairs who may not be able or wish to remodel their homes. Our solution was designed to be effective, safe, available for use by anyone with a disability (no matter how severe) while being safe and effective for caregivers.
We also wanted it to be fully assembled but also completely portable, strong yet lightweight. The FAWSsit ™ Portable Shower is made with high-quality construction to be a true long-term alternative to remodeling. Our portable shower units were created to be affordable, even for people who were not homeowners. All of those goals were met and a whole new option was made available for individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, copycat companies have tried to offer lower-cost showers or ones that improved on the FAWSsit™ concept. However, let me explain why their attempts to meet all of these objectives failed.
How the FAWSsit™ Portable Shower Units Work
The FAWSsit™ Portable Shower is a fully assembled, anodized aluminum frame unit. It has a lift-up bar to allow the individual using the wheelchair to simply be rolled in. There’s no need for lifts, transfers, or “wheelies” to get over the edge of the water collection pan. The double-layer vinyl water collection pan has a wedge of foam sealed between the layers to direct the wastewater to the back of the pan.
Next, a custom-designed, UL Safety Rated, mounted water removal pump pulls the water out of the pan as you shower. The powerful pump keeps the pan almost empty, which allows you to exit from the shower stall as soon as you’ve completed your shower.
The source of water for each of our portable shower units is any standard sink faucet. The shower sprayer connects to the faucet with a snap-on or quick-connect adapter. The showerhead has an on/off lever and spray adjuster to enable setting the water temperature at the sink rather than after the individual is under the spray in the shower. Further, the snap-on adapter holds the shower sprayer onto the faucet preventing a “blow-off” when the on/off lever is turned. Also, the sprayer head can be either hand-held or clipped to any location on the frame to enable “hands-free” showering.
Our sprayer units as well as exit hoses come standard at 15 feet in length. But, they can be upgraded to 20, 30 or even 35 feet units that do not require splicing to get adequate length from the sink to the shower.
Also, the heavyweight, germicide embedded (mildew-resistant) vinyl curtains come as a single unit. However, they can also have the front left open to enable full caregiver access to the individual in the wheelchair. The FAWSsit™ Portable Shower is the ONLY portable shower unit which allows for caregiver access to assist with lower body cleaning! And, it is completely MADE IN AMERICA.
Comparing the FAWSsit™ Portable Shower and the Alternatives
One alternative is a kit that requires assembly each time it is to be used. It needs to be screwed together, with the screws going directly into the PVC frame. To take it down requires reversing the process and, as most people know, PVC can only be screwed into for a limited number of times before it does not hold. Or you may be forced to put the kit together and leave it standing.
Portable Shower Floor
To get into the shower, they indicate that the individual using the wheelchair should do a “wheelie” to jump over the edge of the water collection pan. Their pan is a free-standing, light-weight, single layer vinyl whose sides are held upright with only foam sides.
But, the sides of the FAWSsit™ portable shower floor are held to the frame using simple but strong Velcro™ straps. The front of the pan is also attached to the frame AFTER the individual has rolled into the shower. A bar simply drops down from the frame to form this fourth side for support.
A pan that is only supported by thin foam-filled sides risks structural failure. This can result in gallons of water flowing onto the floor. At FAWSsit™, we believe that the safety of a client’s home matters as well as the safety of the individuals involved in showering.
The Shower Pump
Just as pan strength matters if there is water buildup, so does the pump matter to keep the pan emptying while the shower is in progress. Shower kits have used garden fountain-style pumps and other off-the-shelf units.
The FAWSsit™ custom-designed UL rated pump can pull up to 3 gallons per minute of water from the water collection pan and send it down a drain. And, the FAWSsit™ pump is attached to the frame for safety as well as easy access to the on/off switch.
Some of the pump alternatives offered are so slow in removing the water! This means that persons can’t exit the shower stall until all of the water is removed. And it’s no fun to sit and wait while you’re wet! This is no better than the walk-in bathtubs which also require waiting for the tub to empty before opening the door.
The Shower Curtain
The shower curtain configuration is most significant for the patient’s health.
Shower kits tend to use two light-weight vinyl curtains to hang on the separate sides of their PVC shower frame. The curtains also must be kept closed on all four sides of the light kit shower, giving no access for a caregiver to assist with lower body cleaning. Only upper body bathing assistance is facilitated.
In contrast, each of our FAWSsit™ portable shower units has a single curtain that can be left open in front to enable full caregiver access when needed. The design also facilitates hands-free showering or hand-held, so the showering experience can be independent. Water leakage is not a problem with the FAWSsit™ because there are no breaks in the curtain.
Accessories for Portable Shower Units
Some companies offer just sprayers, just pans, or units that you buy a la carte. One a la carte company supplies all of the components to modify a house for a shower. But, their shower requires a ramp for access, a plumber to modify the water source, and also construction. So the shower either needs to be left in place or re-assembled each time it is to be used.
Some products claim to be “portable” but require the assembly of fiberglass panels and a ramp for access. Neither of these can offer caregiver access for lower body cleaning either.
There is one point which, too often, is the primary purchase criterion: Price. And the adage that you “get what you pay for” does not hold in all cases.
For the shower kits, you get a cheap shower with severe limitations for safety and effectiveness, but it is still not inexpensive. For short-term use, such as during recovery from hip or knee surgery, this may be a reasonable option.
However, this option doesn’t work well for long-term use. This is especially the case for individuals with permanent disabilities. These shower kits will only lead to frequent and expensive kit replacements.
For the ala carte showers, you get what you purchase. If you get all of the options required for a full shower, the price will be higher than the FAWSsit™ showers. Even though they may have greater longevity than the shower kits, these showers cannot be folded away for storage after the shower is completed. In contrast, the FAWSsit™ showers are all designed to fold up after showering and to store away in a space of less than 10 inches in depth.
The fiberglass shower stalls are considerably MORE expensive than the FAWSsit™ Portable Showers. Also, these fiberglass shower stalls don’t offer different model alternatives to address the needs of individuals with all different types of disabilities (or different types of living considerations).
FAWSsit™ Portable Showers have 7 separate models to choose from. They range from options that address the most basic wheelchair needs to the needs of individuals who require a fully-reclined wheelchair.
Choose a Reputable and Experienced Portable Shower Units Company
Over the past 15 years that Care Giver Support Products, LLC (owners of the FAWSsit™ Portable Showers) has been in business, each of our portable shower units has been custom made. We have worked with both professional and family caregivers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, discharge planners, and Veterans Administration Medical Centers. We provide the highest-quality showering alternatives to remodeling. We have clients who have used our products every day for all of these 15 years!
All of our portable shower units come with a full one year warranty on all components except the frame. For the frame, there is a FIVE YEAR warranty.
The expression, “buyer beware” has never been more appropriate than in this industry. However, there is still only ONE portable, effective, and SAFE self-contained shower which requires nothing more than access to a standard sink and a standard 110V outlet: the FAWSsit™ Portable Shower.
Care Giver Support Products, LLC is a small business and FAWSsit™ Portable Showers are proudly made in the United States of America.