There is only a small evidence base to draw upon when choosing assistive devices. Evaluations such as those funded by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency,* Department of Health, United Kingdom, generate data from which evidence-based guidelines can be compiled, but it is often difficult to determine the relative importance of the various factors involved.
To explore the relative importance of the factors related to the choice of bathing devices, the Delphi technique was employed. Thirty respondents were recruited following a formal evaluation of bath cushions and agreed to participate in the study (5 users, 10 informal carers and 15 professional care assistants), with 14 completing the process.
Three rounds were conducted, in which the respondents were asked to review a list of factors to consider when choosing bathing devices, to indicate the most important, to rank them and to comment on the results.
The safety of the user was reported to be the primary concern. The factors that eased the care assistant's task were regarded as less important, but several respondents remarked on the interrelationships between the factors. The ranking of the factors may jeopardise a comprehensive consideration of all the needs assessed, especially with people who have complex requirements. The limitations of the Delphi technique in such situations are discussed.