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5 Tips to Spot a Quality Aged Care Furniture Manufacturer (Hint: It’s Got Nothing to do with Flat-packing)

Friday, May 27, 2022

How do you spot a quality aged care furniture manufacturer?

As an Aged Care Facility Manager who’s responsible for furniture procurement, chances are that you’re not just going to buy your aged care furniture from a large Swedish-style-warehouse.

Apart from the fact that you don’t have time to enter the maze and go on the predetermined ‘catalogue-walkthrough-customer-journey’ (not to mention the flat-packing fun that inevitably follows), you understand the specific needs of the elderly people who live at your facility and you know that furniture that’s not custom made is just not going to cut it.

The safety of elderly people is at stake and you are not interested in compromising that.

How do you make sure that the Australian furniture manufacturer you choose is going to supply quality, robust, fit-for-purpose furniture that’s delivered on time and defect-free?

How do you make sure that the furniture you choose looks good with the fabric that you’ve chosen and that your aged care facility doesn’t look like every other?

How do you avoid complaints from residents and family about the new furniture?

And finally, how do you make sure the new furniture helps your facility meet Aged Care Quality Standards (think: organisation service environment)?

Here are some tips on how to spot a quality aged care furniture manufacturer:

Tip 1: Make sure the furniture is custom made; no flat-packing required.

Everyone knows that you get what you pay for. Not only that, if you do go with the cheap option, you’ll likely pay for it eventually in repairs and replacements.

Worse still, you may be compromising the safety of those who use the furniture and in your case, you are likely trying to meet the needs of frail people who have reduced or limited functional capacity and mobility.

On the other hand, quality custom-made furniture is fit-for-purpose and every element should be designed to meet the specific needs of the user. It also means that you will be able to choose from a wide selection of quality materials and finishes so that you can achieve your desired aesthetics.

Tip 2: Check that your furniture manufacturer has a thorough understanding of the needs of elderly Australians and how these needs translate into furniture design.

Take a moment to think about chair design for an elderly aged care resident. How do you craft a chair that aids sit-to-stand transfers, is durable, easy to clean and helps the elderly person to feel comfortable and ‘at home’?

If your furniture manufacturer can’t provide a comprehensive answer to this question, then you may be looking in the wrong place.

In the case of fit-for-purpose armchair design, the answer should look something like this…

A crucial element of well-designed armchairs for aged care residents is seat height because it’s the seat height that most impacts how easy it is for residents to stand from a seated position (sit-to-stand transfer). A higher seat height reduces the motion, strength and exertion required by an elderly person to rise from an armchair.

While seat height is the most important factor for aiding sit-to-stand transfers, there are other characteristics of aged care armchair design that should be considered including the seat size, the space underneath the seat, the angle of the seat and backrest and whether the armchair has armrests. Armrests should be designed to assist elderly people to stand without requiring assistance. They should be sturdy and easy to grip.

To ensure furniture is easy to clean, the fabric chosen for aged care furniture upholstery should be waterproof, low pile, have a good pilling grade and be antimicrobial. Antimicrobial lacquer should also be applied to high touch-point areas like timber armrests.

Tip 3: Your furniture manufacturer should have an understanding of who the stakeholders are in the furniture procurement process and what their needs are.

So far, we’ve talked about the needs of arguably the most important stakeholder in any aged care furniture project: the elderly people who will be using the furniture.

But there are usually more stakeholders involved. Does your furniture manufacturer know who those stakeholders are and what their needs are?

Other stakeholders in an aged care furniture project may include the organisation’s board, the CEO, the CFO, staff who are caring for elderly residents and even the family of elderly residents. Each of these groups has its own agenda and needs that must be met by the same furniture procurement project. While you may have a solid understanding of these needs, it’s important that the furniture manufacturer does too. After all, they are responsible for partnering with you to provide a furniture solution that works for everyone - from quality controlled design and manufacturing to ongoing after-sales care.

Tip 4: Visit the furniture manufacturing workshop.

You should be able to visit the furniture factory either in person or via video chat. Quality furniture manufacturers who craft fit-for-purpose furniture for aged care facilities will have nothing to hide and will welcome the opportunity for you to tour the factory (either in person or virtually).

Make sure that you see the people who are actually making the furniture. Good furniture craftspeople are passionate about what they do and are usually willing to answer questions you have about the pieces they are crafting or the process they undertake.

Ask to see the components and take note of how well organised the factory is. And that brings me to my final tip…

Tip 5: Ask your furniture manufacturer about their furniture manufacturing process.

From project initiation, right through to furniture installation and beyond, your furniture manufacturer should be using a well-organised and planned process to ensure that your furniture project proceeds smoothly without any unwanted costs or surprises. Their process should be time-tested and well-proven (speaking to their past or current clients is a good way to get a gauge on this!).

Your furniture manufacturer should support you through every step of the process, whether that’s collaboratively working with you to ensure that the project proposal meets your organisation’s budget and expectations or choosing the right upholstery fabric and timber stain.

Finally, the process should not end with furniture installation. Ask about their after-sales service. Quality furniture is a big investment and you are entitled to long-term value. This is demonstrated by the level of structural warranty offered, how proactive they are about ongoing furniture maintenance and how responsive they are when a repair is needed.

Are you looking for a quality aged care furniture manufacturer who can deliver your furniture procurement project?

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.

Call us today on 07 3808 7922 or send us a message and we will share with you how you can strike the balance between function, aesthetics and budget.

 

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