Fit-For-Purpose Aged Care Furniture: Creating Community Areas for Elderly Brisbane Residents
In 2020, a seniors' living aged care retirement community in the Moreton Bay Region, 30 minutes north of Brisbane CBD, was set to open Stage 2 of their development. Although many of the retirement community residents live independently, there were many magnificent community areas that needed furniture including dining, activity and lounge rooms, a cinema, a club area, a foyer and a library.
Choosing the Right Aged Care Furniture for this Retirement Community
A complete fit-out was required and over 500 pieces of furniture needed to be hand crafted at our Brisbane furniture manufacturing workshop.
The furniture needed to be fit-for-purpose and the retirement community needed to engage a Brisbane furniture manufacturer who understood the environment in which the furniture would be used. Without these two crucial elements, this retirement community ran the risk of using furniture that did not enhance their service environment. According to Australian Aged Care Quality Standards, organizations are required to provide a safe and comfortable service environment that promotes a consumer’s independence, function, and enjoyment. One of the key elements of this standard is the role of furniture and ensuring that furniture is clean, safe, well maintained, and suitable for retirement community residents.
When the designer from the aged care facility first approached us, we knew that we were embarking on a special partnership with an organization who deeply valued their resident’s independence and care. They knew that the furniture selected for this retirement community fit-out would impact the daily lives of both residents and staff.
Although we have 20 years of experience in partnering with Australian organizations to provide furniture solutions to the retirement living sector, not all retirement communities are the same and, in the initial stages of the project, we took the time to really listen and understand exactly what they were trying to achieve.
This senior living retirement community offers their residents the luxury and convenience of a Retirement Village combined with the peace of mind of onsite support. Much emphasis is placed on creating elegant and unique community spaces which are designed to enhance the emotional and physical wellbeing of elderly residents. With this in mind and considering that the community spaces would be spread over 3 levels, we collaborated with the designer to ensure that each floor featured a different colour palette to enhance wayfinding for elderly residents.
The furniture required for these community spaces also needed to be designed to promote safety and mobility to help residents maintain their independence for as long as possible. We also needed to create a warm, non-clinical and residential feel.
This aged care facility also features a dementia specific room. This has implications for the style of furniture, furniture placement and the upholstery fabric chosen. Residents with dementia and Alzheimer's may have difficulty interpreting their surroundings. In terms of upholstery fabric, it helps them to use furniture that has fabric patterns which are easy to understand. If a pattern includes objects like flowers, it may cause a resident to pick at them in an attempt to touch or hold the object that they are looking at. If they are unable to do so, it may cause frustration and adverse behaviours.
Functional Furniture for the Safety and Comfort of Residents
When advising on furniture choice for this project, we knew that the furniture should help residents maintain their independence for as long as possible.
Chairs should be sturdy and have armrests with sufficient grip that eases the independent sit-to-stand transition of elderly residents. Chairs should also have firm seat cushions to aid independent mobility and have an open base for ease of cleaning. There should be no sharp edges or corners on furniture. Dining chairs should fit under tables and the tables should also cater for wheelchairs.
In terms of upholstery fabric, as well as choosing fabric that looked good and created an elegant, home-like environment, we also chose fabric with cleanliness, infection control and longevity in mind. We wanted the fabric to wear well and wash easily. We also wanted it to be non-porous, anti-fungal and anti-microbial to allow for hygienic cleaning. It was also important to choose fabric that is smooth and easy to clean with few seams, folds or other places where food and other substances can be caught. Fabric also needed to have fire retardant properties.
From Project Initiation to Furniture Installation: Supporting Our Clients Every Step of the Way
We had come a long way from our first chat with the designer – the needs of elderly residents had been considered, fabrics had been chosen, furniture designs had been agreed on and timber polishes had been selected.
Our team of skilled craftspeople were ready to handcraft the furniture in our Brisbane workshop. Once completed and passed through our rigorous quality control process, we then delivered the furniture ourselves and carefully placed each piece to help bring the designer’s vision to life.
The end result is a stunning array of community spaces that promotes social contact between residents and is comfortable and pleasing to the eye for all who enjoy the space including residents, their families and the staff who work there.