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A compassionate approach to Care Home design

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Clee 3 “Architecture is not just about building. It’s a means of improving people’s quality of life.” - Diébédo Francis Kéré. From speaking with Matthew and Andrew, the practice Directors, this quote captures the very essence of the practice.  It is very clear that Fluid Design are hugely passionate about creating unique and inspirational buildings and environments.

At the start of each project the Directors work closely with their clients to obtain a detailed understanding of the care provision being provided and how the care team will operate the facility.  Matthew advises ‘these are key ingredients in developing a successful scheme, building design should fit hand in hand with the care requirement’.

There is a wide range of care services provided across the homes designed by Fluid Design, for a mixture of regional and national providers.  Homes of varying sizes spread across the country and cover residential, nursing, dementia, learning disabilities and challenging behavioural settings. The range of ages within these facilities is just as varied as the type of care, with Fluid creating stunning residences for younger adults through to homes for the elderly.

Matthew explained ‘Each of the different care provisions we encounter requires a high degree of understanding and over time we have been lucky enough to work on some wonderful projects in each of these sectors.  In doing so we have developed an extensive understanding of how residents best interface with the buildings and spaces we create’.

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The directors of the practice have a vast experience in the Care sector as between them; Andrew and Matthew have 45 years of combined knowledge to call upon. Over time they have learnt that each project is different by the nature of the site constraints and building layout.  Care operators also provide care in differing styles and getting these details right and incorporated at the very early stage of a project is an essential part of the process.  Andrew adds ‘We understand that each scheme is different and we work closely with our clients to apply a bespoke and tailored service to suit their requirements’.

All of the homes created have the wellbeing of the residents at the forefront of their designs.  What is very clear when listening to Matthew and Andrew is they share a clear aim to provide homes for residents to enjoy, ‘we work hard with our clients to ensure that the buildings and environments we create are inspirational and uplifting to all that pass through them.  We design our schemes with compassion and with the happiness of the residents at the forefront of each and every one of the decision we make’.

Clee 6 Fluids latest Care home project to open is located in Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire and is one they are rightly extremely proud of.  The home, which provides nursing and dementia care for the elderly, recently won the best regeneration project at the 2017 Pinders Healthcare Design Awards.  This scheme is a glowing reflection of the caring approach taken by the practice.

‘We worked hard to create a home that allows all the residents the opportunity to feel safe and secure in their new environment.  In many cases it can be a big change for an individual to leave a smaller, more private setting and move into a care home, not just for the resident but the wider family members as well.  We understand this and through our designs we try to make this adjustment as easy and comfortable as possible for all concerned’.

‘As with all our projects we wanted to create a home that has a real sense of community and a hub at the heart of it’.   The clever use of the retained former school structure allowed the opportunity to do just that.  The old assembly hall was turned into an indoor street scene and activity hall which includes several shop facades, a working hair salon & café as well as a bowling green and band stand.  ‘We have found that the inclusion of such areas provides significant points of interest and interaction for the residents, their families and carers which encourages stimulation and happiness amongst all’.

The flow of the building moves you through to a smaller street arcade with further working shops, a cinema, a private dining room and a licensed bar with courtyard seating. Each area of the home, either internal or external, provides a variety of recreational areas with several smaller lounges, quiet areas, libraries, dining rooms and gardens all on offer for the residents to enjoy.  ‘It was important to create a series of differing internal and external spaces as this offers the residents a choice for either individual or shared recreational opportunities’.

There are several open plan, multifunctional rooms each creating opportunities throughout the home for social interaction between the residents and staff.  Andrew adds, ‘We have successfully achieved points of interest at every opportunity, we don’t have long corridors and all routes lead to a destination rather than a dead end.   We have created spaces flooded with natural light, all the corridors and resident areas benefit from this approach’.  Design features such as the large lantern light to the street scene or oversized corner windows to bedrooms overlooking the courtyards are included to enhance individual’s bedroom settings with the furniture orientated to make the most of the views on offer.

Way finding, especially to those residents with dementia, can play a big part in the wellbeing of those living within the home.  This aspect was considered in the initial stages of the building design, ‘We made sure as we developed the scheme that we would have themed areas, which would include shop fronts, to help residents identify key areas with an aim to reducing confusion and disorientation’.

Residents bedroom doors are individually coloured, whereas ancillary doors are plain.  Feature colour walls within resident’s bedrooms have been chosen, whilst providing individuality to the resident which is important to maintain.  Nurse stations are also positioned in key locations to provide optimum yet un-intrusive supervision throughout the home.

Matthew ends, ‘Our key objective when setting out on the project was to make sure that the home we created had a positive impact on the people living in the building.  We are pleased that through our design we have been able to make a difference to the quality of life of the residents, their family members and friends’.

This is evidenced by a recent resident review ‘I think this home is how all care facilities should be. It doesn’t even feel like a care home!  I think it is really great how they have made the home so cosy for all the people living here’.  A glowing reference indeed.

If you would like to see how Fluid Design can help you develop your care project with the same care and compassion then please get in touch with either Andrew or Matthew on 01904 310 257 or on e-mail info@fluiddesignassociates.com.

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