Care Home Design Considerations

Care Home Design Considerations

The care sector accounts for a large part of the work undertaken by calfordseaden. We have been appointed to deliver the full range of projects from small scale refurbishments right through to retirement villages, incorporating residential apartments, specialist dementia care and extra care facilities.

During the delivery of these successful schemes we have learnt many lessons, including that a comprehensive understanding of the occupier’s needs is paramount and that needs will differ from scheme to scheme, but there are some needs that will remain consistent.

Access to the home is an important factor that is not always considered in the design. Whether there is an increased need for wheelchair user parking should be considered in the design, similarly space for ambulance parking zones needs to be considered. Designing areas with ramped access and specified paving means easy access not only for residents but also for visitors who use wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

The safety of residents and visitors cannot be overlooked; hot water taps should be temperature controlled to prevent scalding and all windows should be restricted to prevent the risk of injury. Additionally, the security of resident’s homes and communal areas must be considered, particularly in dementia schemes. Access must be controlled by staff and emergency exits should be monitored, so the duty manager is alerted when these are opened.

The grounds should be safe and secure. Landscaping of a high quality design with easily accessible routes that can be walked by residents and with benches scattered throughout the grounds should be provided. Sensory gardens and space for recreational facilities, such as gardening, are excellent stimulants for residents and provide communal spaces for visitors. For gardens accessed by dementia residents consideration should be made about which plants are used, for instance sharp thorns or poisonous berries could cause harm.

The interior design of extra care and specialist homes should reflect the needs of residents. For instance colours should contrast for the visually impaired and areas should be zoned using colour for clear identification. Modern care homes include future proofed nurse call systems that can be tailored to suit the needs of residents, and with computer use becoming more common by the older generation, a secure high speed wifi connection is becoming an essential design element.

Storage is a major concern in most care homes as hoists, specialist equipment, linen, nursing and food supplies take up substantial space. Finding alternative ways to store essential equipment is a key factor in the design element of new care integrated residential units.

Communal living and dining rooms should be located with the best views of the grounds and sized to take account of those with limited accessibility or walking aids. Interaction with visiting family and friends is of great importance and a small family kitchen or dining area is ideal for this purpose. Additionally, facilities such as cafes or hairdressers, that offer a positive experience for care home residents or visitors, should be a consideration. Exercise facilities or hydrotherapy pools are other facilities that provide positive experiences for residents.

According to recent figures from the Office of National Statistics, the 65 and over age group is projected to grow twice as fast as the working age population over the next 10 years. Long gone are the institutional nursing homes, 21st Century care homes aspire to deliver the same level of quality as luxury hotels!

For more information please speak to David Roberts, Associate, on 01702 548 449 or droberts@calfordseaden.com