Flooring solutions fit for all

Joe Hurst from Altro explores the drivers behind specification of flooring solutions for care homes

Joe Hurst

Flooring for care homes must meet key practical requirements, but not at the expense of creating a homely environment, says Joe Hurst, key account manager for social care at Altro, which has recently produced practical specification guidance for social care providers

No one wants to live in a clinical, hospital environment, and we canít overestimate the impact that feeling at home can have on wellbeing.

It is possible to choose solutions that have been designed with creating homes in mind, yet which are functional and, where needed, promote safety in every way, without that being obvious to residents

This has been recognised by many working within the care home sector, and understanding the principles behind this could prove invaluable.

At Altro, we have spent many years developing floors and walls that support wellbeing across all types of social care environments, including care homes.

To us, this means helping fashion care homes that are welcoming, attractive, inclusive and safe. And, where it is possible to help a resident stay, or become, more independent, and be happier because of this, thatís what we will do.

Altro has developed a guide to help with specification of flooring for social care environments

Functional and safe

It is possible to choose solutions that have been designed with creating homes in mind, yet which are functional and, where needed, promote safety in every way, without that being obvious to residents.

Care home residents can have specialist or complex needs such as visual impairment, dementia, autism, learning and physical disability that make mobility difficult and these needs must be taken into consideration.

The following design principles take into account the needs of those living and working in care home environments:

  • Use complementary flooring and wall solutions to create a calm, homely appearance
  • Use matt, sparkle-free flooring to avoid the impression of hazards
  • View shades that run alongside each other in grey scale to check they definitely contrast
  • For areas with a high or very-high risk of slipping, always choose flooring with a Pendulum Test Value (PTV) of ≥36
  • Install similar flooring between rooms to encourage independent movement
  • In wet environments, avoid overly-textured flooring
  • Avoid steps or the misperception of steps due to reflection or patterns in general areas
  • Avoid lighting which alters the appearance of the floor finish
  • Ensure the colours of walls, doors, floors and ceilings contrast to demark them, unless you are trying to conceal an entrance
  • Encourage personalisation of a private or personal space and use different colours to enhance wayfinding
  • Ensure the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of walls, flooring and any other critical surfaces differs by at least 30 points
  • Consider few colours in one area to avoid confusion
  • Remember that staff-only areas should look as good as the rest of the care home
  • Install solutions that are anti-pick and anti-ligature to protect residents
  • Acoustic or sound-reducing comfort floors should be considered for quiet areas, sensory rooms, and to muffle sound in corridors

Care home residents can have specialist or complex needs such as visual impairment, dementia, autism, learning and physical disability that make mobility difficult and these needs must be taken into consideration

If youíre working on a refurbishment or renovation rather than new build, there are even more aspects to consider.

We know that the stress of moving out of a familiar room can affect some residents badly, to the point where they attempt to destroy their surroundings, risking injury as well as trauma.

In these situations, consider adhesive-free floors, which enable a quick turnaround, minimising the amount of time that room is unoccupied or unavailable.

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