Many of us ‘baby boomers’ find ourselves sandwiched neatly between caring for our children and caring for our elderly parents. And, looming on the horizon is the possibility that we may one day have to make some emotionally difficult decisions about our parents’ long-term care.
Nobody would want to live in a sterile, unwelcoming environment. Much can be done with clever decorating to create a place which fosters a feeling of security and comfort – and these are the type of places we would prefer our loved ones to inhabit when home care is no longer an option.
If you own a care home or any other type of residential home, the following tips are worth considering for the benefit of your residents and staff.
Creating a welcoming environment in your care home isn’t just about employing friendly, warm and dedicated staff; you also need to set the scene with well-considered decoration. Safety and hygiene need to play a part in the decision making process when it comes to interior choices but that needn’t be at the expense of the aesthetic appeal of your care home. It’s important to get things right for the residents and staff who will spend a lot of time in the same areas every day and to impress visitors to the premises to help your business stand out.
Here are a few crucial decorating points to consider…
Colour and light
You don’t need to be familiar with the seven chakras to engage in colour therapy to recognise that different colours can impact our moods. When you are choosing the colours of your walls, furniture and soft furnishings, this can help you make calculated choices to improve the daily experience of your residents. Yellow is a warm colour that is said to have positive connotations and research has found that it works to wake up the brain. Red, another warm colour can be associated with aggression and feelings of anger whereas pink is actually used within some prisons because it has been shown to lower confrontational behaviour.
The cooler colours of blue and green are said to have a calming impact upon our moods, but did you know that diners have been shown to eat fewer calories when eating in rooms where blue dominates? This is thought to be in part because of the low occurrence of blue foods in nature. This means the shade may not be an ideal choice for your dining room!
|Choosing the right colour can make such a different to the atmosphere|
It’s not just colour that can improve our mood, having a good presence of natural light is crucial in a care home where guests may not be able to go outdoors as much. Choose window dressings that allow light in while maintaining privacy and consider using bi-fold doors both externally and internally to allow light to flow throughout the building. There’s no need to stick with modern PVC if it doesn’t fit in with other elements of your design scheme, Creative Doors Direct have some nice oak options.
Ease of cleaning, comfort for guests and ability to withstand wear and tear; care home furniture needs to meet higher criterion than items used domestically. When selecting items such as arm chairs you’ll need to consider breathability of fabric, how easy it will be to remove spills and other stains for infection control purposes and whether the fabric will withstand constant cleaning too. Lookout for stain resistant fabrics and designs that incorporate spaces for easy cleaning as well as mechanisms for helping individuals rise and lower themselves where needed.
Surfaces such as chests of drawers and tables should be sturdy and easy to wipe clean. Where possible, choose designs that are free from sharp corners too. For dementia sufferers, furniture items that allow visibility of items stored inside can be particularly helpful. Drawers with gaps that allow easy access and visibility of the contents and wardrobes without doors or with partial doors are good examples.
It’s often not practical to allow residents to personalise lots of areas of the home, though many homes allow to residents bring their own duvet set or hang their own curtains along with displaying personal photographs and art. This can help residents to feel more at home and also plays an important part in retaining happy memories. Retro decorating takes this element to the next level. The term describes the practice of decorating areas in furniture, soft furnishings and wallpaper or paint styles that residents are familiar with from the past.
|Finishing touches can make all the difference|
This type of environment is kept free from modern gadgets and might feature items such as old style dial Bakelite telephone. Similarly, toilets may use the monochrome style design with black seats that have long been used in public spaces. Decorating in this way can help some dementia sufferers to feel more confident and comfortable in their surroundings, though it’s obviously tricky to strike a balance for residents born in different decades or in some instances, different countries.
Have you recently decorated a care home or another type of new business premises? What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? I’d love to hear about your projects, so please share your tips!