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News archive - July 2018
Part of the furniture
Care homes serve a great number of people and are often the first, and maybe last, place in which an elderly person will live after leaving their own home.
As such, the furniture chosen for these environments needs to be functional, homely-looking, and of high quality.
Joe Hulbert of Innova Care Concepts explains: “Care home furniture needs to be long lasting.
“Items will be used in residents’ rooms and in communal areas, as well as in receptions and any family zones, so they need to be comfy and supportive AND suitable for lots of different users.”
A home from home
Sarah Thompson, national sales manager at Shackletons, added: “The care home environment is designed to be a place of comfort and recuperation for residents and many are looking for a sense of home.
“To achieve this, it is important that the environment is treated with the same thought and attention that is paid to clinical care settings.
“Selecting good-quality furniture means the environment is durable, safe and, above all, made for the comfort of the resident.”
And robustness is critical, as care home furniture endures daily use.
Thompson said: “Chairs, for instance, are sat in for long periods of time so they must have the right lumber support and seat heights to suit every resident’s needs.
“The better quality the furniture, the more likely you are to account for both the practical and aesthetic requirements.”
She added: “Those looking for care home furniture should always place the needs of residents at the forefront of the buying process.
“It is important, therefore, to look for the quality of the final finish.
“It is this attention to detail that should define ultimately where you choose to purchase a particular product.”
And she advises: “A good manufacturer, who genuinely pays attention to the product, will be obvious from the detail.
“Clean lines, polishing without streaks, and no loose threads may seem like small points; but care homes should have furniture that reflects the quality of services; and that means consistency across all products.”
A touch of comfort
Hulbert said another key priority for care homes was branding, introducing specific colour schemes across entire buildings to create a more-homely feel.
“For this reason it’s good for specifiers to look out for furniture that can come in different colours, fabrics, and finishes to blend in with the rest of the environment,” he told hdm.
“It’ll help to tie the room together and just give it that extra touch of comfort.”
Beds are one of the key items of furniture within a care home environment, so it’s important to specify the right products.
Thompson said: “When choosing the most-suitable option, you should consider whether they are hoist friendly, have height-adjustable features, and what materials they are made of.
“Beds also need to be waterproof, so PVC-coated upholstery is ideal.
“As one of the most-used items in a care facility, the bed also needs to be comfortable, with a soft memory foam topper, for instance.”
Liz Vesty of Tough Furniture added: “The design of beds depends on the particular needs and behaviours of end users.
“Infection control nowadays assumes much-greater importance than it did, and while this is usually associated with superbugs in acute hospitals, it is also a high priority in care settings because of incontinence.
“Visual appearance and appeal has also grown hugely in significance.
“Once upon a time the brief was just to avoid looking institutional, but nowadays the built environment, especially furniture, is considered an essential part of the therapeutic process.”
When designing new models, she said products with underbed storage were becoming increasingly popular as space is often at a premium.
“Conventional domestic beds will suffice in most areas of care, augmented sometimes by hospital-type profiling beds where necessary, and dementia-friendly beds, which are often designed to co-ordinate with other cabinet furniture,” she added.
And Hulbert said that feedback from clients was driving the design of improved safety features.
He said: “One of the biggest concerns we hear from care home is siderails and bedsides.
“Bedrail regulations have been put in place to help prevent entrapment, but many care facilities have another priority entirely; how siderails make the residents feel.
“Models with metal bars or sides that are almost completely enclosed can make the person feel trapped or imprisoned. “With this in mind we developed our Liberta bed which has mesh sidepanels that allow the user to see through them without compromising their health and safety.”
Vesty predicts that over the coming months companies will be looking much more closely at developing new, fully-waterproof beds and chairs, exploring the potential of new materials and manufacturing techniques.