How to Choose the Best Australian Power Lift Recliner Chair for Aged Care
For some elderly aged care residents with limited mobility, traditional manual recliners can be difficult to use; they struggle with the effort to recline the chairs and then strain themselves when transitioning from a seated to a standing position.
For these reasons, Australian aged care facilities may be interested in replacing some of the manual recliners with power lift recliners.
Buying power lift recliner chairs for elderly residents is a big investment and you want to be sure that you understand the benefits of power recliner chairs and that you know what to consider when choosing them.
After all, your choice of chair is going to impact the health and wellbeing of aged care residents and the staff who care for them.
You want to make sure that the chairs you are selecting are fit-for-purpose and meet the Australian Aged Care Quality Standards, helping your aged care facility to pass organization service environment audits.
Finally, you want the power lift recliners to be Australian made so that you can rest easy in the knowledge that you will have quality Australian made furniture that is made to Australian standards, custom designed to the needs of the aged care community and supporting the jobs of Australian families.
But first… what is a power lift recliner?
Power lift recliners go by many names including lift chairs, rise-and-recline chairs, electric lift chairs or medical recline chairs.
Power lift recliners look like a manual recliner, but they go one step further by not only reclining, but also providing support for the user by gently lifting them and standing them up.
Power lift recliners are available as single motor chairs or dual motor lift chairs. Single motor chairs have one operating panel controlling the back recline and leg rest. Dual motor lift chairs have independent controls for the backrest and leg rest which offers a wider range of seating positions.
Meeting Aged Care Quality Standards: Helping aged care facilities meet Aged Care Quality Standards by improving the organization service environment
Since the introduction of the standards in 2019, aged care organizations have been required to ensure that they “provide a safe and comfortable service environment that promotes the consumer’s independence, function and enjoyment”.
One of the key requirements within the standards is for “furniture, fittings and equipment to be safe, clean, well maintained and suitable for the consumer”.
Aged care organizations must be able to answer this question: “How does furniture design and the layout of furniture and fittings help consumers who are frail, less flexible and less mobile to be comfortable and independent?”
For those aged care residents who have limited mobility, rise-and-recline chairs tick a number of these boxes, helping people independently and comfortably go from a seated position to a standing position, reducing fatigue and possible injury.
Without the assistance of an electric lift chair, aged care residents may strain their shoulders, arms, or hips. Electric lift chairs also help protect aged care facility staff from back injuries associated with lifting people.
Benefits of Power Recliners: Ensuring the comfort and independence of aged care residents
Many aged care residents have restricted mobility which may make it difficult to get in and out of poorly designed chairs without asking for assistance first. Lack of independence due to poor chair design can lead to depression, reduced social interaction, an increase in the chance of falls and loss of confidence due to falling.
Mobility and independence of residents can be maintained with suitable aged care seating design and a popular seating choice within aged care lounge rooms are electric lift-and-recline chairs. These chairs have several health and therapeutic benefits including:
- Reducing strain when transferring in and out of chairs by aiding with sit-to-stand transitions.
- Preventing falls by allowing the user to be in full control of the seating and standing process. Sturdy arm rests that aged care residents can hold onto also assist in this process.
- Reducing carer injuries because the user of the chair is more independently able to rise out of the chair.
- Better oedema management by elevating the aged care resident’s feet. Raised leg positioning assists with lower limb oedema, promoting healthy circulation by keeping blood and oxygen flowing throughout legs, feet and body. This can help reduce swelling caused by excess fluid and reduces the risk of developing varicose veins.
- Aiding recovery from injuries by reducing pressure on the body and providing full spine support and multiple position options to accommodate personal comfort.
Considerations when buying a power lift recliner: Meeting the seating needs of the aged care population by providing fit-for-purpose chairs
With a view to improving the comfort and independence of elderly aged care residents who are often frail, less flexible, and less mobile, what should you consider when buying lift-and-recliner chairs?
Safety: First and foremost, the user of the electric lift chair must be able to operate the chair safely. They must be able to safely maneuver themselves from a seated position without assistance and they must be able to operate the controls. Single motor chairs have one operating panel that controls both the back recline and leg rest which can be easier to operate due to the single control panel. Dual motor lift chairs have independent controls for the backrest and leg rest, offering a wider range of seating positions.
Suitability: Seek advice on whether power lift recliners are suitable for individual residents. A lift chair takes on much of the work that our muscles normally do when we transition from sitting to standing and this may cause muscles to weaken even further.
Size: Each chair should be fitted to individual aged care residents based on weight and height, with the seat being wide enough to accommodate the person’s hips while still allowing their arms to rest comfortably on armrests. People should be able to sit comfortably with their feet resting on the floor when in a standard seated position.
Space availability: Some recliners, such as the FHG Slimline Recliner, are designed to be placed closer to the wall and take up less space than standard chairs when in full recline mode. These are ideal for aged care facilities where space is at a premium.
Fabric: Upholstery fabric choice not only impacts the look of a chair but also the ability to keep the power recliner chair clean. With increased demands on aged care operators to maintain a hygienic service environment for residents, staff and family, upholstery fabric should look good and be easy to clean.
A few tips for choosing upholstery fabric include:
- Avoid upholstery fabrics that have a high pile. High pile fabrics can be difficult to clean because contaminates get down into the pile and can’t just be wiped over.
- Choose upholstery fabrics with a better pilling grade and avoid the formation of fuzzy balls on the surface of the fabric. Ask your furniture manufacturer about the piling grade of the fabric.
- Look for a waterproof fabric. Upholstery fabrics must be waterproof, shielding against spills, liquids, and stains to keep chairs clean and hygienic.
- Choose an antimicrobial fabric. Antimicrobial products kill or slow the spread of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Adding antimicrobials to upholstery fabrics offers a layer of protection, prolonging the life of the textile and protecting the fabric surface from microbes.
Australian made recliners: Better outcomes for all Australians
Replacing or buying new aged care furniture is a big investment and getting it right the first time is crucial. You don’t want to be replacing furniture a year after the fit-out because you chose to use lower priced, lower quality, imported furniture that wasn’t fit for purpose.
Australian made furniture is made to Australian standards, warranties and guarantees and Australian manufacturers are held to some of the highest manufacturing quality standards in the world.
Buying Australian made furniture supports local industries and jobs, boosting the Australian economy and keeping profits in Australia. Also, Australian furniture manufacturers and their employees pay tax to the Australian Government, and this means there is more money to spend on things like hospitals, sporting facilities and schools. According to 2020 ABS statistics, manufacturing contributes 6% of Australia’s GDP and supports 862,200 jobs. By choosing to buy Australian made furniture for your aged care facility, you are giving back to the community and supporting the jobs of families across Australia.
Aged Care Seating should be fit-for-purpose: striking a balance between comfort, ease of use and independence
Providing fit-for-purpose seating within aged care is an issue of equity and for aged care residents who have limited mobility, electric rise-and-recline chairs provide an opportunity for comfortable and independent use of chairs that may otherwise be difficult to get in and out of.
At FHG, we understand the need to provide the aged care sector with furniture that is fit-for-purpose and we partner with Australian businesses to provide end-to-end custom furniture solutions - from quality-controlled design and manufacturing to ongoing after-sales care. 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.