The world of interior design is an artistic place where designers can express their creative flair, turning spaces void of character into aesthetically pleasing environments to live, work, or relax in.
When designing a care home environment, certain considerations must be taken into account before creating an environment for an elderly person to reside in, to ensure they are as comfortable, safe, and happy as possible.
At Foxholes Care Home, we have just opened nine new assisted-living apartment suites, offering fully fitted independent living quarters available to couples and individuals.
When designing our new suites, we had to carefully consider a number of factors to ensure they offer the utmost quality for those that live with us – from aesthetic, comfort and functionality points of view:
Wall Design – Statement or Neutral?
The walls of a living space in a care home can be bold and colourful, decorated with aesthetically pleasing shapes or patterns. If designing a room or area for someone/people living with dementia, however, then it’s best to avoid geometric designs. While appealing, these striking designs can cause confusion and therefore be unsettling for those residing in such surroundings. This doesn’t mean, though, that walls have to be kept simple and bland with one colour of choice. Feature wallpaper designs, for instance, can include floral patterns and other shapes that evoke happy, calming emotions.
While luxurious high pile carpets look great and provide an extremely soft and bouncy feel – ideal for elderly residents on foot – they aren’t practical for non-mobile residents. The length of the fibres will be a challenge to manoeuvre in a wheelchair, or even using a frame or stick. Instead, low pile carpets should be used where possible and should be made with a material that is easy to clean. Maintaining dignity amongst residents is of great importance in care home environments, so flooring material with a special backing that can stop any bodily fluids such as uric acid from penetrating into the subfloor is ideal.
For hard flooring, opt for surfacing that can be glued down and sealed rather than floating floors. While generally cheaper and easier to install, floating floors may allow water to get underneath the surface overtime due to the amount of cleaning they will require.
Resident mobility should always be at the forefront of any decisions when it comes to choosing furniture such as chairs. Seating that is slightly higher than average (avoid low back chairs!) will help residents to comfortably sit and stand without needing assistance. Such chairs should be located all over the care home too, not just in residents’ rooms. If a resident finds a chair difficult to stand up from in a communal space, for instance, they may avoid that area altogether.
Also, choose a seat cushion with special fabric or vegan leather so it will be easy to clean.
To make a resident feel comfortable and to preserve their dignity, choose fabrics that can last the test of time and be washed at high temperatures without shrinkage or fading. These fabrics are often treated and may not be as soft and luxurious as what we might like in our own homes, but they will provide a long lifespan, as opposed to soft fabrics that will potentially not be visually appealing in a short space of time.
It’s also important to remember that when an elderly person looks at a chair, their viewpoint is different to that of a younger person. We must preserve their dignity and be able to clean up any bodily fluids without staining.
A Variety of Lighting Options
Bright lighting is best suited to care home environments to ensure enhanced visibility, but lightbulb exposure to the eyes of residents should be avoided. Lampshades and diffusers are good choices, especially for ceiling lights and if the lighting is situated above the bed. Elderly people’s eyesight can vary tremendously, so the shielding of naked light is recommended as a universal solution.
Overall, there are many factors to consider when designing a living environment in a care home, but they are crucial elements to ensuring the person is safe and comfortable – something every care environment should aspire to provide its residents.
These are just a few of the key factors we consider when designing a care home environment. It’s always within our best interests to create a comfortable, functional and aesthetically pleasing space for our residents and their families.
We’re delighted to be introducing our beautiful new suites, which have been recently added to our care home offering. Providing bundles of space and easy access to our scenic gardens, they are ideal for couples who wish to continue living independently, but together. Our suites offer a comfortable double room, lounge and kitchen area, with housekeeping and catering services always available. If you’d like to find out more about our suites, please click here; alternatively, please do contact a member of our team if you’d like to book a virtual tour.