Furniture Design is Important for Aged Care Residents and Staff
Choosing furniture for aged care facilities is a big responsibility and one which can impact the daily lives of both aged care facility residents and staff.
Furniture design plays a role in the emotional and physical wellbeing of elderly residents. It should be designed to promote safety and mobility to help residents maintain their independence for as long as possible. It should also create a warm, non-clinical and residential feel.
5 Tips for Choosing the Right Furniture for Aged Care Facilities
Aged care furniture should look good, be easily understood and create a warm, non-clinical and residential feel.
Nobody wants to live in a hospital, surrounded by hospital-style furniture and it has been shown that good design can simply make people feel better.
Designing furniture that looks home-like and cozy can help elderly residents feel more comfortable within the aged care setting, although, finding durable, washable, yet realistically home-like furniture can be difficult.
Another important aesthetic consideration is fabric selection. Residents with dementia and Alzheimer's may have difficulty interpreting their surroundings. 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.
2. Functional Design
Elderly people living in aged care facilities have specific physical needs which, when met, can have significant impact on their emotional wellbeing.
Furniture choices in an aged care setting should be based on helping residents to maintain their independence for as long as possible:
- Chairs should be sturdy and have armrests with sufficient grip that allow elderly residents to get up and down independently.
- Chairs should 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.
- Avoid seats and backs that slope backwards as this can make it difficult for residents to get out of.
Results from a study conducted by QUT Design Lab at the Qld Uni of Technology showed that residents, experts and care-givers all prefer chairs which are above the recommended height for older people so that they will be able to get out of them more easily.
The study also indicated that many residents struggled with chairs which were also too deep in the seat pan so that they could not easily touch the floor or sit comfortably and were forced to slump.
3. Fabric Choice
While aesthetics are important, fabric used on furniture for the aged care population also needs to be selected with cleanliness, infection control and longevity in mind. In other words, furniture for aged care facilities should wear well and wash easily.
Due to incontinence experienced by some elderly people, it is important that materials used on furniture for aged care facilities are non-porous, anti-fungal and anti-microbial to allow for hygienic cleaning.
Keep in mind that although you want the furniture to be washable, you want to avoid it looking clinical so that residents, staff and family members feel more comfortable and ‘at home’ within the facility.
Upholstery should be smooth and easy to clean with few seams, folds or other places where food and other substances can be caught. Try to avoid fabrics that have a high pile, as they can be very difficult to get down into the pile to remove the contaminates instead of just wiping over the surface which is what can be done on a flat pile or vinyl upholstery.
Fabrics used on furniture for aged care facilities should also have fire retardant properties and have fabric protection treatment for ease of cleaning.
One of the best fabrics to use on furniture for aged care facilities is Crypton which is stain resistant, water resistant and microbe resistant yet still has the look and feel of more traditional fabrics.
4. Customized Furniture Solutions from One Company with No Middle-man
Choose a company who does both the design and manufacturing of furniture for aged care facilities.
Not all aged care facilities are the same and you need someone to understand your individual needs. By choosing a company that both designs and manufactures furniture for aged care facilities, you will have one company completely focused and accountable for delivering your refurbishment.
Using a company with a track record of successfully scoping and delivering aged care furniture solutions also means that your refurbishment will be designed and delivered within your budget, avoiding any potential budget blowouts that may come with having too many middle-men involved.
5. Aged Care Furniture Specialist
Choose an aged care furniture manufacturer who specializes in furniture for aged care facilities.
To hand this type of specialist work over to a standard furniture manufacturer will be the biggest mistake you could make. You need a furniture manufacturer who understands the needs of the aged care population, with an outstanding record of creating custom aged care solutions and who has systems in place to deliver your refurbishment on budget, on time and to the highest hand-crafted quality.
At the end of the day, we know that furniture can only do so much to help aged care residents and their carers. However, choosing items that aid and not hinder the daily activities of your facility can go a long way in making daily life easier for both residents and staff.
Are you looking for furniture for your aged care facility?
With over 20 years of experience in the aged care furniture manufacturing industry, we bring solutions to our client’s unique circumstances; it’s what we do best.