How Flooring Design Contributes to Healthy and Supportive Aged Care Environments

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Advances in health care and increased life expectancy are driving a demographic shift in our population. But a longer life isn’t always healthier. Aging brings its own set of challenges – understanding these challenges can help design healthier and more supportive spaces for our seniors.

When designing an aged care facility, the environment should help residents offset the effects of aging and the onset of dementia. These elements include lighting, acoustics and décor. Good inclusive design can change the lives of residents, staff and visiting families.

Design and Safety Considerations

Although age affects everyone differently, there are great similarities in how it can alter our relationship with our immediate environment and impact the safety of residents and staff. These changes are particularly significant in these key areas:

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Eyesight deteriorates with age, so older eyes need two to three times as much light to see well. Visual contrasts should also be accentuated. This has significant implications for lighting levels in nursing homes. Variations in light cause vision problems in older people, so even lighting is recommended as well as avoiding shadows and darker areas, which can be confusing for people with dementia.

Exposure to daylight also helps regulate daily habits and improve people’s moods. The soil’s ability to reflect daylight is another factor to consider. Ideally, aged care facility flooring should have a Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of between 20-30%.

Mobility

Interior spaces that are easy and safe to move around are essential to maintain the mobility of older people. Walking boosts our cognitive performance, slowing down the age-related decline in our mental faculties.

Floors that are smooth, matt, non-slip, free of obstacles and pleasant to walk on or ride on will reduce the risk of slips, falls or accidents while promoting movement.

One of the most critical areas for slip safety in an aged care facility is the bathroom, where falls can have serious consequences. Our powder room solution offers design, compliance and peace of mind, with proven references across the country.

Flooring products with consistent rolling resistance make it easier for residents and staff to navigate with walkers, carts or beds, eliminating any potential frustration of having wheels pressed into the ground and making mobility more difficult .

Contrast is the key to vision. Low contrast is a useful way to make flooring safer, maintaining one color across different floor finishes. Strong contrasts in the LRV can make the floor uneven and cause hesitation and instability, which can lead to falls. High or sudden contrast is useful for things like stairs.

Hearing

Not only do we hear less clearly with age, but what we hear changes. Higher frequencies are harder to detect and background noise may seem louder. This increases the risk of falls (hearing helps with orientation) and makes social interactions more difficult.

Good sound insulation will minimize disturbance from the often noisy environment of nursing homes, which can also have a significant impact on the quality of sleep of residents.

Tile reflects sound waves, but soft flooring such as carpet or acoustically backed vinyl absorbs them, reducing noise pollution. It is important to consider the needs of different spaces and patients, and select products that will help provide appropriate acoustic protection between rooms, in hallways and in open spaces.

Dementia

People with dementia typically experience memory problems, have difficulty processing information and are less able to communicate, which impacts their perception of their surroundings, leaving them unable to relate what they see to reality. physical reality or to perceive objects in three dimensions.

Color and contrast can be used to help people with dementia identify key features and parts. Using a color that contrasts with the background draws attention to key features. For example, it may be easier to locate and use switches and sockets, railings and handrails in a contrasting color with the wall. Sharp contrasts at floor level can become a hazard, as intricate patterns, lines and shadows can appear as barriers. Smooth, uniformly colored flooring signals that the area is a flat surface, while the edges of the steps will have high contrast to visually reinforce the change of environment.

Tarkett bathroom solutions

Bathrooms in aged care facilities can be one of the most expensive areas to fix. Tarkett’s Codemark certified wet room installation uses accredited installers, who test the integrity of the weld during installation to provide a better level of watertightness to the installation. This system provides complete peace of mind for facility owners and managers and is adopted by some of Australia’s largest aged care providers.

Designing to enrich lives

Flooring plays a vital role in creating safe, healthy and functional senior care facilities. Tarkett’s line of aging flooring products can contribute to cleaner air, ensuring a facility remains healthy and attractive for years to come.

Powerbond is the proven carpet for aged care facilities. With a waterproof backing, Powerbond looks and feels like carpet, but performs like vinyl, protecting the tile from moisture penetration, preventing unpleasant odors and moisture buildup, a common frustration for healthcare facilities for the elderly.

For more information: https://professionals.tarkett.com.au/en_AU/node/powerbond-garden-walk-collection-9545.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Rido

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