Deciding to put a loved one in a care home is a difficult and stressful decision for any family. Families worry about everything from the physical practicalities to the emotional toll. Therefore, as a care home provider, it falls to you to reassure not only residents-to-be – but those family members taking responsibility for the decision.
One way to do this is by creating a nurturing environment that demonstrates the highest level of care for your residents’ health and wellbeing. Through careful care home design and fit-out, your space not only advocates your attention to wellbeing but morally and ethically you are providing a great service for the ageing population.
In this blog post, we will give you some design & fit-out tips to improve the health and wellbeing of your care home residents.
1. Create a highly-functional space
Although care homes are built on around the clock care, if the design enables residents to have a degree of independence, you are maximising their quality of life.
Simple adaptations can make a huge difference. Where in a patient’s own homes they were disabled by their environment (by stairs, narrow door frames, bulky furniture), in a care home you have the opportunity to make residents able.
There are many ways you maximise functionality. For instance:
- widen doorways
- ensure dedicated pathways for walkers and wheelchairs
- use handrails
- ensure no steps up or down (use ramps)
2. But also… make it homely
Functionality shouldn’t come at an expense to a nice design that appeals to your residents. After all, moving from their own homes to a nursing home is a huge upheaval – and you will want to ease the transition, so residents settle in well.
Think of a domestic setting – and then, remove any hazards associated with it. Avoiding an institutional feel, you should allow for decoration – but in a way that does not clutter or act as a hazard.
Comfortable furnishings will encourage your residents to feel relaxed. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to opt for vinyl or plastic-coated fabric. In fact, you can select a huge range of microbial and impervious fabrics that suit a cosy and comfortable room style.
Overall, homely environments that are also highly functional will help your residents feel at home – largely improving their wellbeing.
3. Focus on sociable spaces
Social interaction is so important for mental health and wellbeing. So, you want to encourage your residents to socialise with each other. To do that, create multi-functional spaces that can be used for various activities.
For instance, large areas could include temporary partitions to encourage small sociable group activities. From board games to art activities, make sure you set up spaces that nurture close communication. Also, with temporary partitions, care homes have the flexibility to switch back for bigger events – such as concerts, church services and cinema night.
Above all, you should aim for a flexible space that allows for a variety of social activities for residents.
4. Maximise light
There’s a lot of scientific evidence out there that says low light levels can dramatically impact our moods. Irrespective of age, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a condition that can affect anyone – not just care home residents.
Recognised by the NHS, “a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the: production of melatonin… production of serotonin… [and the] body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm)”.
Consider care home residents’ added vulnerability to low-light levels. It’s highly likely residents suffer from visual and cognitive impairments which are worsened by light levels. Also, feelings of being ‘stuck’ and ‘limited’ by dark environments, can impact further on low moods caused by this condition.
Naturally, it makes good sense to maximise natural light levels and sunlight for an open, airy nursing home environment that encourages good wellbeing. Bay windows and large unobstructed glass is a great design feature. Furthermore, consider good artificial lighting – where natural lighting isn’t as abundant.
5. Bring the outdoors in
Last but certainly not least, it’s time to consider nature – and how to bring it into your care home.
If you have outdoor space, make sure you are maximising it. Is it adapted so residents can use it? Is it safe? Is it decorated nicely – and not overgrown? Unfortunately, so many care homes disregard outdoor space. Yet the reality is it can make a huge difference to your residents’ wellbeing – and physical health through boosting vitamin D production.
No space at your care home for outdoor living?
Don’t worry – it’s a common predicament, especially in cities where space is a premium. Fortunately, there are many ways you can still bring the outdoors into your care home.
In fact, even the smallest touches of nature have been proven to boost mental health and wellbeing. Introduce plants into your residential care home design; put up photos and paintings of nature – and make the very most of any outdoor space, even if it is only a small courtyard.
How good design improves wellbeing for your care home residents
The environment we live in has a powerful impact on not only our mood – but in the long term our mental health and wellbeing.
Good design promotes a good life for residents in a care home – making their lives easier, more comfortable and overall happier. Combined with a high level of care and compassion, nursing homes can become a wonderful place that families can trust.
Improve care home resident wellbeing through good design
Whether you’re starting from scratch or designing a completely new space, a fit-out is your opportunity to provide a better environment for your care home residents.
Or, contact Neil on 01785 817114 to speak to an expert about your care home fit-out plans.