As a Designer who specialises in the Care and Retirement sector there are many aspects I take into consideration when making selections. These include Practicality, Longevity, suitability for age group and needs, budget, appearance, style of building and client brief. Using evidence-based design to create Interiors which are homely but at the same time Dementia enabling. A well designed Care home should not only look beautiful but increase the confidence and independence of residents, lead to less accidents and help easier to navigate rooms for the staff.
Furniture Chairs– most important to select chairs which are easy to get out of, with arms at a good height for leverage. Comfortable chairs, depending on client group this may include pressure relieving foam. I usually try to have a mix of chair seat heights and back heights within a room, to cater for different residents. The finish of the seat pad, if possible, should have a 30LRV (light Reflectance Value) difference to the flooring, this is to enable residents to see the seat more clearly and therefore have more confidence to sit down unaided, increasing independence. It is really important to select furniture which doesn’t look institutional, we are trying to make any spaces look as domestic as possible. One way to try to avoid a room looking institutional is to use a mix of styles and fabrics, my heart sinks when I go into a Care Home lounge with new furniture and all the chairs are in one or two fabrics, it costs no different to have a mix of fabrics.
Furniture – Case Goods – before selecting case goods such as coffee tables, shelves etc I look at the style first to ensure it is practical, for example rounded corners, stable furniture, suitable size and height, for example with a coffee table can a resident reach a cup easily. I then look at the styles and colours available in the range to work with my Interior Design Scheme. I avoid any shinny finishes to stop glare and try to select tabletops with a LRV contrast to the floor.
Flooring – In Care and Retirement we tend to use mainly a mix of vinyl and carpet. The carpets should to be anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and impervious. The vinyl’s, depending on the situation, often need to be safety floors. When selecting floors, I keep to all flooring being within 10 LRV of adjoining floors with no speckles or designs that may confuse residents or look like dirt that needs to be picked up. I recently visited a hotel were the carpet in the corridor was so disorienting that it felt as though the floor was moving.
Fabrics – All curtain fabrics need to be FR, if possible, inherently FR, and upholsteries needs to be Crib 5. Any upholsteries going onto the front of a chair really need to be anti-microbial, Anti-Bacterial and impervious. This help to ensure the seats are easier to clean and stay looking nice for longer. In these times of Covid -19 the infection control is more important than ever.
This really is a brief look at what I am looking for when making selections, there are so many other aspects to take into consideration, the most important one being the client brief.