Case

Shower Bathing Device
for Nursing Care

Viami NB2500

This unique misting shower with dome construction minimizes body exposure for enhanced bather privacy while deeply warming the body through a sauna-like effect for a luxurious bathing experience.
With zero drowning risk and huge per-bather time savings, the Viami NB2500 provides welcome relief for caregivers and bathers alike.

Shower Bathing Device for Nursing Care Viami NB2500

Joint Development

Viami NB2500

Clarifying requirement definitions allowed us to fine-tune the product and create an entirely new type of bathing device.

The first step in making sure that as many users as possible would be able to enjoy the remarkable features of Viami was to clearly define the requirements associated with target users and how they would utilize the device. To do this, we combined the definitions prepared by the development company with Future Care Lab in Japan's objective data, making subtle adjustments and improvements to the seat surface and leg portion of the reclining chair. While the pandemic prevented us from conducting on-site testing, we were able to hammer out the details virtually through repeated confirmations and exchanges of feedback to arrive at a new design that makes bathing easier for users and caregivers alike.

Development Company Seeds

Develop the Viami Series Shower Bathing Device for Nursing Care to reduce the labor involved in bathing tasks at nursing care sites, and sell it to medical and nursing care facilities throughout Japan
Lab Matching ServicesLab Matching Services

Care Facility Needs

Offer a new way for users to enjoy the bathing experience while streamlining bathing tasks, which are both time- and labor-intensive for caregivers
Providing new ways to enjoy the bathing experiencewhile streamlining bathing tasks

Interview

Joint Development Story

Providing new ways to enjoy the bathing experience
while streamlining bathing tasks

Interview
Participants

  • Takashi Nakai

    (From the development company)

    Air Water Inc.

    Takashi Nakai

    Leader, Viami Group Medical Device Promotion Department Medical Business Division Medical Company

    Nakai has been involved in proposing and selling medical and nursing care products to medical and social services facilities over the eight years he has been with Air Water Inc., and has been in his current position since 2018.

  • Yuki Namino

    (From Future Care Lab in Japan)

    Future Care Lab in Japan

    Yuki Namino

    Researcher (Physical Therapist), Education and Training Department

    Namino formerly worked as a physical therapist doing rehabilitation work in hospital and elder care facilities. Since joining Sompo Care, he has been primarily involved in capability evaluations and care plan proposals for new residents. At Future Care Lab in Japan, he works as an R&D lead.

What was the impetus behind developing the Viami Shower Bathing Device for Nursing Care?

Nakai: Our company is currently engaged in a wide variety of business pursuits, but we started as a manufacturer of industrial gases like oxygen and nitrogen—which we supplied to hospitals or manufacturing facilities. This has led to our involvement with numerous projects geared towards medical facilities, where we aim to provide better products to aid both patients and staff. The Viami Series Shower Bathing Device for Nursing Care came out of those efforts. One of the main purposes of a bath is to warm the body to the core, promoting both physical and psychological relaxation, but we often heard that it was difficult to accomplish that with the bathing devices used for people with physical disabilities or those staying in the hospital. So we set out to develop and improve those products so that they would be physically easier on users while allowing them to safely relax into the bathing experience. Getting patients into the bath was also extremely difficult on caregivers, so lightening their load with a showering device was another driving force behind development. Working with the Future Care Lab in Japan (“the Lab”) to improve the reclining chair was also a major factor in making the device easier on caregivers.

A shared approach to manufacturing:Listen to the front lines

A shared approach to manufacturing:
Listen to the front lines

What drove you to get involved in improving the Viami?

Namino: At the Lab, our goal is to improve productivity at nursing care sites and streamline tasks. Caregiving staff spend a lot of time helping with bathing, so we were searching for a way we might be able to change what they were doing in order to make the process more efficient. We thought that users might enjoy a pleasant showering experience, which would also ease the burden on caregivers. After looking into several options, we ended up at the Viami.

Nakai: When we were first approached by the Lab, we had them actually experience the Viami in our showroom. They told us they were looking at the possibility of a showering devices that would make things easier on caregivers and create better working conditions for them. That aligned perfectly with what we were trying to do, so we immediately wanted to work with them.

Namino: What clinched our decision to go with Viami was that it felt the best when we actually used it. We tried a variety of showering devices by different manufacturers, but the Viami felt most like being in a bath—and yet offered an entirely new bathing experience. We thought that seniors would really enjoy it, so we brought it to our Sompo Care facilities in Tokyo and Kanagawa to do some on-site evaluations. Both users and caregivers loved it, and it also streamlined the bathing process—so we decided to do a full-scale rollout. Some users even preferred it to special tubs or regular baths, and because caregivers were able to help users with bathing tasks on their own rather than in teams of two, it greatly improved efficiency as well. The people in the care settings also gave us specific feedback about what we might improve further, so we used those ideas to make the device better when we kicked off our joint development work.

Tell us more about the product improvement process. Did you run into any difficulties during development or on-site testing?

Tell us more about the product improvement process. Did you run into any difficulties during development or on-site testing?

Namino: One thing they told us when they actually used the product on site was that the opening around the crotch area was too large, so that one side of the user’s bottom had a tendency to fall through. Another problem that came up was that it was hard for wheelchair users to stand when being transferred into the reclining chair, because the leg frame on the Viami jutted too far forward. Once we overcame these two difficulties with the chair, more users were able to have a comfortable bathing experience, which made things easier on caregivers as well.

Nakai: We were also aware of the need for those changes. Once the Lab surveyed users and staff at Sompo Care and provided us with the analysis results, we were convinced that the chair improvements would result in better user ADLs (activities of daily living) and reduce the burden on caregiving staff, so we set about making them. The Lab did a lot of research on the sizing of the seat surface and leg areas while creating prototypes—the problem was that we were unable to test the devices on site due to the pandemic. Still, we were happy to be able to speak with the front lines and collect feedback. We sent the prototypes we created based on that information to the Lab, and we refined them even further by getting feedback from users looking at the actual product remotely.

Namino: I typically work out of Osaka, so it was difficult for me to nail down those fine details remotely (aside from when I made work trips to Tokyo). We worked like that for about six months, gradually arriving at the product specifications and target requirement definitions through trial and error. At the same time, we were working out the usage protocols.

Translating insights as a physical therapist into product development was a great experienceTranslating insights as a physical therapist into product development was a great experience

Translating insights as a physical therapist
into product development was a great experience

What were your big a-has or lessons during the course of the joint project?

Namino: As the problems came up during the actual usage of Viami at nursing care sites, what really hit home for me was the importance of coming up with clear requirement definitions stating exactly who the product was designed for. This tends to be a gray area with nursing care devices and technologies, but at the end of the day, these are no more than tools—so if you’re not clear about who should ideally be using them, they can’t be put to their best advantage. When we combined the definitions issued by Air Water Inc. with the objective indicators the Lab collected on the physical characteristics of users, Mr. Nakai and his team were able make adjustments and improvements to the device. This ultimately allowed us to come up with a better product and better ways of using it—something that was really satisfying for us to be able to offer users.

Nakai: We had also asked our customers about their experiences using the product, but when we spoke to them, we were always bound by our own conception of the product—meaning that there were times when we couldn’t find out whether they were actually using it in the ideal way. So when the Lab provided us with detailed analysis results on things like who was having trouble using the product and how much time savings it created, we realized that more types of people might be using it than we thought, and that some of them may be having difficulties. It was a real eye-opener for us. Plus, having a physical therapist like Mr. Namino, professional caregivers, and scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) involved in our meetings gave us access to expert feedback and information that we wouldn’t normally have had. That was tremendously helpful as well.

Where is the product at now, and what are your future plans for rolling it out?

Nakai: The Viami series is already being used at a variety of social services facilities and medical institutions throughout Japan. Our latest project involved working with the Lab to improve the reclining chair designed for the Viami NB2500, so it’s a product born from our cooperative efforts. We’d like to begin putting some effort into promoting it as something that can be used all over the country for patients who have difficulty bathing—even at sites where they’re already using Viami series products. Shower-type devices don’t yet make up a huge share of the bathing equipment market, so we’re hoping to be able to introduce the Viami Shower Bathing Device as a way to overcome a variety of challenges that nursing care and medical settings are experiencing. I think that the recent improvements we made to the reclining chair are a huge step in that direction.

Namino: We’re delighted that so many nursing care facilities across the country are going to have access to the improved reclining chair they need once it’s released. Physical therapists typically work in one-on-one situations during rehabilitation at hospitals and care facilities, so it was a wonderful experience figuring out how to put my insights from physical therapy to good use in a product development setting and how to match what we do up with what the development company does. I can’t wait to use what I’ve learned to make more products that will bring joy to users and caregivers alike.

Interviews based on information current as of September 2021.

Where is the product at now, and what are your future plans for rolling it out?

Message From
the Development
Company Team

Message From the Development Company Team

Development Company / Air Water Inc.

What we loved about working with
Future Care Lab in Japan

  • The Lab was able to clearly identify what product improvements needed to be made based on feedback from real users at caregiving settings
  • The Lab gave us access to expert feedback and information that we couldn’t get internally, including from physical therapists and professional caregivers

The Future Care Lab in Japan takes a multifaceted approach to analysis in whatever it does, incorporating facility administrator, caregiver, and resident perspectives. I myself experienced some eye-opening realizations as a result, and am convinced that exchanging feedback about usage conditions and improvements with the Lab will result in even better products going forward.

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