In the past the interiors of healthcare facilities have been pigeonholed as having lacklustre designs and hospital-like styles. This has been necessary for practical reasons; they are challenging environments that are susceptible to damage and vulnerable to bacteria, so they require the best in hygiene and care. It is, however, just as important to create a home from a care home; this has been a fairly recent objective in the industry that has changed things for the better. Inside Out Contracts regularly work with Park Grove interior designers to furnish Hamberley and PegasusLife care and retirement homes in a bid to create stylish, comfortable and functional interiors for residents.
Healthcare environments throw up an array of very different and more specific requirements to other venues that IOC work on. There are a range of levels to the care required in these environments, sometimes furniture from the Inside Out catalogue fits the exact needs of the project and at other times the design team put their heads together to create bespoke products that make life smoother for residents, family and carers combined.
Those who live with the higher levels of care invariably require different facilities to younger or more able-bodies individuals. They may have restricted movement or other conditions that make it imperative to adapt furniture to their needs. The IOC team encourages designers to consider the following:
- High-back furniture – This offers lumbar support for the shoulders, back, and neck that one wouldn’t receive from low-backed chairs.
- Arms – Chairs with arms for dining aid the movement into and out of the chair as well as increasing general comfort.
- Width – The wider the chair, the easier it is to manoeuvre into the seat.
- Curved edges – Sharp edges and hard lines create unnecessary hazards. These can be easily avoided if the furniture is chosen with a thought given to curving the edges.
Some of IOC’s most popular pieces of furniture chosen for healthcare are the Prince Wing Back chair, Coco High Back chair, and the Brompton armchair. To see the top 10 healthcare chairs in the catalogue click here. If a designer is interested in a particular design of chair from the catalogue that does not necessarily meet these demands, it is possible for the IOC design team to adapt the design so that it is fit for purpose. There are several ways of doing this. Here are some of the key points that IOC focus on when adapting furniture for healthcare:
- Foams – To make it easy to sit and raise oneself without aid the height of the seat is very important. It is possible to add foam to increase the height of the seat to make this easier on residents. IOC can also use pressure-relieving foams which prevent the user from causing themselves an injury.
- Fabrics – Innovation in fabric has never been more predominant, and the invention of smart materials enable IOC to supply high-end furniture to the healthcare industry, creating an altogether more pleasurable environment. IOC work with fabric suppliers who provide anti-microbial, anti-fungal, stain-resistant and water-repellent qualities. These make cleaning easier for staff whilst still appearing attractive. IOC have fabric guides and blogs dedicated to explaining their functions.
During the Covid pandemic IOC have worked with existing clients to re-adjust their schemes to be more hygienic and comply with social distancing measures. This has involved changing from sofas and grouped seating to more modular pieces that can be separated and moved around the space. It has also involved moves to stylish metal pieces that are easy to wipe down and keep clean. These quick innovations have provided food for thought going forwards and proven the adaptability of the furnishings.
To see the wonderful roster of care projects that IOC has been involved in furnishing, from The White Hart in Amphill to Charters Village in Surrey, take a look at their healthcare portfolio and brochure.
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