When building aged care facilities, commercial building companies need to consider all the best elements and innovations to create a welcoming and accessible environment. Interestingly, this involves making adaptions and additional fittings to better suit the comfort of residents and the needs of the staff.
As a leading, commercial building company, the committed experts at S & B Lamble Builders recognise that incorporating custom design elements and assistive technology can go a long way to improve the unique needs of an aged care facility.
The increased importance of wayfinding and accessibility
While neutral palettes are an ongoing timeless trend for many residential homes, you are unlikely to find this refined palette in many aged care facilities. Colours act as a great wayfinding cue for elderly residents, particularly people with dementia, and of course, many older people have visual impairments such as macular degeneration or loss of central or peripheral vision. This makes including contrasting colours on walls and bench tops so important to commercial building companies for the added depth perception.
It’s important to consider that brighter colours are highly visible, while lighter hues like blue and lavender are more difficult for elderly people to see and often appear grey. Colour or specific patterns can be a great tool for wayfinding by using different colours to create separate zones and establish a sense of familiarity.
Accessibility is also integral to the comfort of residents in aged care facilities. This requires the installation of handrails, non-slip surfaces, and ramps alongside clear signage in large, clear fonts. The department of health also recommends hallways and paths to be at least two metres wide to allow two wheelchairs to comfortably pass each other. Wider thoroughfare also helps staff easily and quickly move any medical equipment as necessary. Another aspect that can assist with both accessibility and wayfinding is to furnish high traffic areas with comfortable seating corners, allowing elderly residents to take a rest as needed.
While there are many fittings to consider when designing the ideal aged care facility, another aspect that benefits both residents and staff members is integrating assistive technology and automation in the early stages of the build. Innovative technology can make a drastic difference to the comfort of older residents and frees up staff for more important tasks.
Automations such as motion-activated lights between the bedroom and bathroom can help to prevent falls and add a sense of independence. Appliances like smart stoves with automatic shutoffs can also prevent accidental fires and automatic taps allow forgetful older residents to walk away from running taps without wasting water. For additional safety, doors with sensors can also limit wandering residents from accessing staff only areas allowing private spaces for staff to relax and safe areas for storage of the medication.
There are also automation and technology that can be integrated by the commercial building company to improve the comfort of the residents. Time activated blinds that allow natural light to fill the room can also create a more welcoming environment during the daylight hours, without requiring staff to open all the blinds throughout the building. Climate control throughout the resident’s bedrooms will also increase their sense of comfort.
Any screens and multimedia installed throughout the build, such as nurse call systems, should include large screens and screen readers to assist with text. Any assistive screens or multimedia technology should all include a simple user interface to be easy to use for residents and could also prove useful to staff for accessing medical information as needed.
Avoiding an uncomfortable, institutional style
Avoiding the appearance of an institutional building and designing for resident enjoyment is important to any leading commercial building company. This includes minimising the use of long, dull hallways and maximising the number of entrances to closed-off garden spaces.
Aged care facilities should also include accommodations for end-of-life care, which may include wide doors in bedrooms to allow bedridden residents to be wheeled outside for outdoor enjoyment. Maximising the views outside, particularly in dining areas, adds natural light and a sense of relaxation. It can also be beneficial for the fencing to be discrete and concealed by landscaping so that the space can feel more open. Activity areas and spaces for visiting families are also important to consider when designing an aged care building. This could include a lawn bowl area, added lounge rooms and sheltered, private outdoor seating.
Ready to build with a dedicated commercial building company?
S & B Lamble Builders approach each commercial build as a unique project with a superior level of workmanship. With over 35 years of experience across Melbourne and regional Victoria, our team specialise in building aged care facilities that prioritise comfort and enjoyment.
The professional team of our commercial building company are ready to help you through the construction process from the planning and design stages so you can rest assured that you’re receiving quality care at every step of your commercial build.
Please feel free to submit a tender through our site to turn your vision into a reality! To discuss your commercial build with our expert team, give us a call on (03) 5941 8135 or fill out our online contact form today.