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mental health & dementia
News - March 2018
Are you sitting comfortably?
Manufacturers have been working closely with health and care operators to create the next generation of therapeutic seating designs.
Whether it’s office chairs, seating for waiting areas or day rooms, or clinical seating such as dialysis chairs or treatment chairs; the way in which these items of furniture are designed can have a huge impact on comfort and the overall patient, staff and visitor experience.
In fact, they are probably one of the most-frequently-ordered items of furniture in hospitals, health centres and care homes; so there are a growing number of options to choose from.
Speaking to hdm, Michelle Crill, healthcare programme director for manufacturer, Allseating, explains: “Starting in the welcome and waiting areas; we first and foremost have to think of first impressions - how is the space going to look?
“However, the design process goes beyond aesthetics and works beyond these areas.
“It requires an astute evaluation of functional characteristics, including egress, ingress, durability, cleanability, weight limit, and user comfort and control.
“It is imperative in a healthcare setting to make sure the environment is sterile for staff, patients, and their families. However, it is also important to not make aesthetical sacrifices that might harm users’ wellbeing.”
This focus on aesthetics has, in the past few years, become more widespread.
Crill said: “It is increasingly apparent that healthcare environments themselves are very much involved in the wellbeing of users. Therefore, if a patient room is beautifully designed, or a waiting room is made to be more comfortable, it eases the patient as well as their families and makes for a more-inviting space, thus positively affecting the healing process.
“Establishing an environment from the bottom up that satisfies the eye, providing an inviting, calming, and clean space is now enmeshed in product function and design.”
The ‘wow’ factor
Sara Jane Farrow, national business manager at Teal Living, adds: “The challenge is the age-old quest for ‘wow factor’ environments that will stimulate and inspire residents to interact and feel at home - but making sure they are fit for purpose both in terms of suitability for people with various physical needs and also maintenance in terms of keeping them nice and fresh looking.”
Examples of some of the latest product launches which combine this form-and-function design approach include Bristol Maid’s new Portland Overnight Chair.
Suitable for use in maternity units, children’s wards, relative’s rooms, hospices and care homes; it provides comfortable seating by day before transforming into a bed by night, providing visitors with a comfortable place to sleep during longer visits.
Pineapple last month launched its Ryno Tub, manufactured specifically for challenging environments such as mental health units.
And Morgan Studio has unveiled its Valencia Collection, an increasingly-popular modular system that enables specifiers to mix and match products to fit any space.
The more-homely-style Hampton collection was also recently chosen for working areas and breakout zones at Nuffield Health Epsom; and St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne features Siena lounge chairs for general seating along with wing lounge chairs and sofas from the Seville collection.
When choosing a product, Farrow advises being ‘adventurous’ and thinking ‘outside the box’.
“Not everything needs to be the most-expensive thing in the catalogue,” she said.
“For me, it’s all about peace of mind. Peace of mind that you have invested well in furniture that is well made and fit for purpose; peace of mind that the interiors are stimulating and inviting; and peace of mind that you’re dealing with a company that knows what you want and understands what you need.”
A testing time
And Crill advises testing each product carefully before deciding which to buy. She said: “Seating options are not all created equal.
“Take the time to compare chairs side by side, test the capability and ease of taking the seat cover on and off; and evaluate overall ease of use. Is this a product that would work with your environment?”
In the future, products will continue to evolve, with more options for hospitals and care homes looking for a more-hotel-like feel.
Farrow said: “Product ranges will become more diverse and as the science behind fabrics continues to improve, more and more colour and flair can be added to the palette there is to choose from.
“The increase in open-plan living spaces also means that seating will be used more often to help define spaces and offer a feeling of security.”