SCHELL Healthcare – innovative solutions for the challenges facing institutions in the healthcare sector

Demographic change is an intrinsic part of our society now and is having far-reaching impacts on healthcare. In 2040, the section of the German population aged over 65 is expected to grow to 21.4 million, driving a constant increase in the numbers of people needing care. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, around 4.1 million people were in need of care in Germany in 2019, with this number estimated to rise to over 5 million by 2030. As a result of this trend, hospitals and healthcare facilities are finding themselves facing a growing number of older patients. Operators of medical and nursing facilities are therefore looking for options capable of increasing efficiency in all relevant areas within their institutions. This includes user hygiene und drinking water hygiene as well as measures to save water and energy. These efforts also apply to sanitary facilities, as the equipment used here is subject to strict standards and offers plenty of room for optimisation. Building operators and facility managers in nursing and healthcare facilities face the complex task of not only meeting the needs of those in need of care but also organising their operational procedures to be capable of complying with strict hygiene and safety standards while still remaining cost-effective. SCHELL provides those responsible with high-quality sanitary solutions developed to meet these practical needs – including support for maintaining drinking water quality, support for user hygiene and options to increase the efficiency of building systems. Many products from SCHELL help building operators save both water and energy. In our article, we use the following sections to introduce the individual challenges, showing how and where specific products and solutions from SCHELL can help healthcare facility operating companies in tackling them.

Preventing Pseudomonas and Legionella: maintaining drinking water quality in healthcare facilities

First and foremost, operators of drinking water installations in healthcare facilities face the challenge of making the day-to-day operation of their drinking water installation standards-compliant, hygienic and economical.
From a health perspective, the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is extremely relevant, especially in nursing and healthcare facilities. Due to its minimal nutritional requirements, this microorganism can populate surfaces of parts and fittings even fresh from the factory, and poses a very serious health risk to people with weakened immune systems. Half of all hospital-acquired pneumonia can be attributed to this bacterium as well as a third of all urinary tract infections and one in eight cases of blood poisoning. So there are good reasons for fit-out planners and tradespersons working in healthcare facilities to learn more about this pathogen. Another, much better known and no less relevant microbe is Legionella spec., which is capable of causing cases of atypical pneumonia. In healthcare, Legionella spec. and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are important bacterial pathogens when considering how to operate a safe drinking water installation. Both bacteria present an elevated risk for vulnerable user groups.

One important contamination route into drinking water installations involves parts contaminated during production. This is why SCHELL tests all of its parts dry in the production process. This approach and a regular exchange of water across all tapping points effectively protect drinking water against contamination with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Legionella.
If water is allowed to stagnate for too long in the piping – such as during interruptions in use – this can allow harmful microorganisms to propagate excessively. Drinking water quality must be reliably maintained at each tapping point. Building operators are responsible for ensuring that a sufficient exchange of water takes place – at least every 72 hours.
In some circumstances, patients confined to their beds will not use every tapping point in the ward or private room on a regular basis. To maintain drinking water quality, stagnation flushes are required, as an adequate exchange of water does not take place as a result of normal use. Terminal tapping points – such as in janitor’s rooms – are often used only occasionally. However, these tapping points need to be flushed just as routinely as tapping points in any other areas, so that any harmful bacteria present in the piping cannot spread unchecked.
The SCHELL SWS Water Management System offers both networking and control functions for many electronic SCHELL fittings and associated SCHELL products. This can also be used to automate stagnation flushes, making it the ideal basis for the hygienic and efficient operation of a drinking water installation. This applies to both treatment and patient rooms, visitor areas, technical and janitor’s rooms, theatres and personnel areas – and so for all of the relevant tapping points throughout the building.

SCHELL fittings combine functionality and design for semi-public and public sanitary facilities

SCHELL offers innovative fittings and solutions for the standards-compliant fit-out of sanitary facilities, whether in nursing homes, hospitals, convalescent centres, doctor’s practices or home care environments. The broad-based SCHELL portfolio offers water management solutions to maintain drinking water quality as well as high-quality fittings for wash basins, kitchens, showers, WCs and urinals. In the sections below, and in the two other articles from our three-part series, planners, operating companies and tradespersons can find out more about the features that SCHELL fittings offer to help with building management in hospitals and nursing facilities. The third article also contains information about the benefits of SCHELL products in home care environments as well as available funding.

Contactless fittings offer advantages for user hygiene and saving water

Many kinds of people visit, work and are resident in hospitals and nursing facilities. This means user groups with weakened immune systems can be exposed to pathogens harmful to human health.
Both visitors and staff also often need to use tapping points that are handled by a mix of different people. According to the WHO, some 80 percent of all germs are passed on via the hands. To help ensure good user hygiene for patients, residents, visitors and staff, fittings that offer low-contact or contactless operation are strongly recommended. The ‘hands-off’ operation with contactless taps completely avoids direct skin contact while someone is washing their hands at the basin. The flow of water starts automatically once a hand comes into the sensor’s detection range and stops again once the hand moves out of range of the sensor. This means that the tap does not need to be touched again by clean hands in order to stop the flow of water. This minimises the risk of contact infections.
The use of contactless SCHELL fittings also offers another advantage for facility operators: this type of operation prevents excessive water consumption as a result of fittings accidentally left running – by dementia patients or personnel working on a busy schedule, for example. This working principle means they use up to 70% less water compared with conventional single-lever mixers, because water only flows when it is truly needed.
With low-contact, self-closing taps, the flow of water is started manually and stops after the preconfigured period of time. Here too, the tap does not need to be touched after washing the hands. Self-closing taps can cut water usage by up to 55% compared with single-lever mixers. Self-closing taps and contactless sensor taps from SCHELL make an important contribution to the key aspects of user hygiene, and saving water as well as energy. Energy is also saved by the reductions to the volume of hot water that needs to be supplied. Water-saving taps from SCHELL can also help buildings achieve ecological certification according to the BREEAM or LEED rating system.

Anti-scalding fittings protect vulnerable user groups in hospital and nursing environments

Potential injuries from hot water are a hazard that should not be underestimated in a healthcare setting. Vulnerable groups of users are especially at risk from suffering scald injuries due to contact with excessively hot water. Common reasons for this include slower reaction speeds due to illness or age, as well as more sensitive skin in the case of older people. During showering in particular, attempts to avoid a jet of painfully hot water or accidental contact with hot fittings can also lead to falls and the injuries that result from such incidents. Accordingly, the German Association for Hospital Hygiene (DGKH) recommends anti-scalding protection in facilities used for direct patient care.
The ThermoProtect technology developed by SCHELL provides reliable anti-scalding protection in fittings equipped with this feature. Thanks to ThermoProtect, the temperature of the water flowing out of the fitting is restricted and kept constant even during pressure fluctuations in the system. The flow of water is stopped entirely if the cold water supply fails. This makes SCHELL fittings with anti-scalding protection ideally suited for sanitary facilities that are used by people unable to respond quickly to dangerous situations.
Another advantage für building operators is the ease of adding anti-scalding protection later: by installing a SCHELL angle valve thermostat under the wash basin, anti-scalding protection becomes a simple retrofit for many fittings.

Thanks to their design, SCHELL fittings also help support an environment of well-being

A major feature of many SCHELL fittings is their attractive design, which creates a pleasing ambience both in healthcare facilities and in home-care environments, thereby improving quality of life for both patients and residents. SCHELL fittings are appreciated both for their functionality and their aesthetic appeal. And these well-designed fittings are more than simply functional: SCHELL fittings are also a good choice for facilities designed according to the ‘healing architecture’ principle. This approach to building fit-out aims to create a pleasant environment that contributes psychologically to the healing process. Each SCHELL fitting is designed according to the specific stylistic features of its series, to ensure a uniform aesthetic impression.

Building operators, planners and tradespersons benefit in several ways from a decision to use SCHELL products and solutions. First, they achieve flexibility, because the broad-based SCHELL portfolio offers fittings that are suitable for a wide range of application scenarios and structural conditions. Second, they can also rely on a seasoned and dependable partner, because SCHELL advises and assists project developers individually, drawing on its long-standing expertise in fittings and water management for sanitary facilities on semi-public, public and commercial premises.

SCHELL SWS Water Management System supports healthcare facility managers

Drinking water installations on semi-public, public and commercial premises present planners, tradespersons and facility managers with an extensive set of challenges. The German Drinking Water Act requires conformity to generally recognised codes of practice as the basis for legally compliant operation. Drinking water quality must be maintained at each tapping point. Building operators are responsible for ensuring that a sufficient exchange of water takes place – at least every 72 hours. If water is allowed to stagnate for too long in the piping – such as during interruptions in use – potentially harmful bacteria can then propagate excessively. Preventing this requires the regular and correct exchange of water.
As an expert for intelligent solutions, SCHELL provides support for maintaining the quality of drinking water in buildings. The integrated SCHELL SWS Water Management System offers networking and control for many electronic SCHELL fittings – on wash basins, in kitchens and showers or on WCs and urinals – and corresponding SCHELL products, providing an ideal basis for the hygienic and efficient operation of the drinking water installation.

At the heart of the system is the SWS server, which is networked with the fittings and other bus subscribers. Multiple servers can be used if more than 64 subscribers need to be networked. SWS can also be used to program fitting parameters such as sensor range and flow time. Other fitting settings, such as automated stagnation flushes to be run at specified times, can also be programmed easily while saving valuable time. In addition, SWS offers the option of assigning networked fittings to stagnation flush groups. Triggering a simultaneous flush for multiple fittings can simulate the ‘specified normal operation’ of a system.
This is a cost-effective option for building operators: the automated processes work to save time and money while having a positive effect on energy and water consumption. One advantage of automated stagnation flushes is that much less water is consumed than is the case for stagnation flushes that are carried out manually – by a janitor, for example. After all: a lot of water will have gone down the drain before the janitor has opened all the fittings and they are then flushing at the same time. In this way, automated stagnation flushes help to save water compared with stagnation flushes that are performed manually.
Facility managers can adjust fitting parameters and automated stagnation flushes to suit the needs of the building. These parameter values can also be set individually on a per-fitting basis.
Apart from time, factors that can have an effect on drinking water quality include temperature. Building operators must ensure that the temperature of the hot water line (PWH) stays above 55 °C while the cold water (PWC) temperature never exceeds 25 °C. The range between these two values is especially favourable to harmful bacteria and they therefore propagate rapidly at such temperatures. SCHELL angle valves with temperature sensors measure the temperature in cold and hot water lines. If the temperature drops below the required hot water temperature or rises above the required cold water temperature, SWS automatically triggers a stagnation flush at the corresponding tapping point.
If changes occur in use, such as when patient rooms become unoccupied or a treatment room is temporarily closed, stagnation flushes and fitting parameters can be adjusted via secure access, ensuring that the drinking water installation is configured to best maintain drinking water quality while still being operated as cost-effectively as possible.

Integrated logging is another key feature of the SWS Water Management System. All activities in the drinking water installation are recorded. On the one hand, this lets building operators prove their compliance with the law. On the other, operators can use the data to draw conclusions about the system and then carry out other optimisations for cost effectiveness or drinking water hygiene. This logging covers the stagnation flushes and temperature measurements carried out, plus calculated water consumption as well as the fittings most or least often used.
And there’s another benefit for planners, too: thanks to the flexible wired or wireless options for networking individual bus subscribers, SWS is suitable for new developments and retrofits alike. Furthermore, as SWS utilises a modular design, this makes additional retrofits or extensions to the system easily possible. SWS can either be used as a standalone solution or integrated into the central building control system by means of gateways.

An innovative add-on to SWS is the browser-based online SMART.SWS service, which lets building operators control and manage their facilities as and when needed via remote access. For building operators, not having to visit the individual buildings to manage their fittings is a useful benefit. This means facility managers can save valuable time and trips, especially if they manage several buildings in a large hospital complex, for example.

Have questions about the SWS Water Management System? We look forward to your enquiry and will be happy to advise you!


SCHELL offers long-standing expertise in solutions for sanitary facilities on semi-public, public and commercial premises. The company’s broad-based portfolio, consisting of high-quality fittings and solutions to help maintain drinking water quality, offers decisive advantages for operators of healthcare facilities. Contactless fittings help to improve user hygiene while making it possible to achieve significant savings in water and energy consumption. The ThermoProtect technology offers reliable protection against scalding, which is especially relevant for those groups of patients whose reaction speeds may be impaired. The SCHELL SWS Water Management System helps building operators stay standards-compliant in terms of drinking water quality while making drinking water installation operations as cost-effective as possible. Thanks to its flexibility, SWS is equally suited to new developments or retrofits.
In the healthcare sector, which is increasingly affected by demographic change, SCHELL is proving to be an indispensable partner for sanitary equipment products and solutions. From the planning to the construction and the operation of a building across its entire lifecycle, SCHELL offers reliable support, thanks to its expertise and innovation solutions. This integrated approach makes SCHELL a valuable partner, able to offer long-term support within a sector now experiencing dramatic change.

Outlook: The second and third part of our three-part series of articles provides building operators, planners and tradespersons with further details of SCHELL’s products and solutions for hospitals and nursing facilities.

Have questions about SCHELL Healthcare? Go here to find the right contact person and talk about the solutions that are the best fit for your needs. Our experts will be happy to advise you!

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