Modern senior living facilities are constantly striving to do more than merely housing the elderly or accommodate age-related conditions. They are working towards designing comfortable, enjoyable, and safe living spaces for seniors.
Flooring is a critical component of this process. An ideal flooring prevents slips and falls in senior living facilities and reduces the risk of healthcare-associated infections. Simply put, the flooring of a senior care facility greatly influences the well-being of the seniors living in the facility.
The safety of the elderly residents is a huge aspect to consider when selecting a surface for a senior care facility. Here are a few effective tips that will prove to be useful as you set out to design a safe abode for your elder members.
1. Understand How Each Space Will Be Used
The first step is to go around the facility and understand the function of each space. For instance, high-traffic spaces like stairways, the lobby, gym, pool decks, the mailroom, and other social areas demand a durable and anti-skid surface.
Different types of spaces demand different surfaces; unless you have a versatile flooring option like rubber surfacing that fulfills all the safety needs of senior care facilities. Get your staff, residents, and other stakeholders together to understand how each space will be used. This will help you choose a surfacing material that meets the needs of space users.
For instance, the flooring in the public and semi-public areas like the lobby, the library, or the stairway will see a lot of foot traffic and people accessing the space using wheelchairs and other mobility aids. So, you need a surface that will make the space accessible. At the same time, you should opt for a resilient surface that can stand up to routine wear and tear.
Finally, make a note of the areas where the risk of a slip, fall, or accident is high. These spaces will require a surface with high traction and shock-absorbing potential.
2. Pay Attention to the Principles of Safe Flooring for Seniors
Choosing a surfacing that seniors will use is a tricky decision. Consider the below-mentioned principles to invest in a suitable surface for the senior care center.
Be consistent with the surfacing. This will allow an easy and seamless transition for elders across the area.
For instance, an elder using a walker may find it tough to transition from a carpeted floor to a tiled area. They may have little confidence in setting their foot on a different surface with a considerable height difference. This may lead to confusion, causing them to trip and injure themselves.
Hence, it’s wise to choose a versatile surface that not just fulfills all your needs but also offers a safe footing for the elders in your facility. Minimize the number of transitions by opting for a consistent surface through the facility.
Also, get rid of saddles, thresholds, and area rugs. These can easily become tripping hazards.
Install a Safety Surfacing in Areas That Tend to Get Wet
Anti-fatigue and anti-skid surfaces are ideal for senior care communities. They come in handy in areas like the kitchen, the mess hall, and bathrooms that tend to get wet. In such areas, you need a surface with good traction to avoid slips and serious injuries.
A surface like rubber will perform well in such spaces as it’s naturally impervious to water and anti-skid. That’s because, rubber has a high coefficient of friction; so, it resists any lateral motion on the surface. Moreover, rubber is super soft under the foot, leading to less fatigue even if the elder is standing for long hours. Hence, rubber surfacing for elderly care centers is a good idea!
Keep Floors Free of Clutter
Besides choosing an ideal surface for the senior care facility, it’s important to keep the floor clean and clutter-free. Make sure items like books, magazines, and wires, that could cause tripping hazards, are cleared from the walkways.
3. Prioritize the Safety Factors When Opting for a Safety Surfacing
Several factors need to be considered when choosing an ideal surfacing for senior care facilities. For instance, the surface should be durable, easy to clean and maintain, skid and chemical resistant, and safe. However, the factors mentioned below shouldn’t be ignored at any cost.
Slips and falls are a leading cause of fatalities in seniors. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans aged ≥65 years report falling each year and visiting the emergency department for injuries and fractures.
Slip resistance is a huge factor to be considered in facilities designed for seniors. A flooring with high traction is especially important for facilities where the elder residents have limited mobility or are going through physical therapy or rehabilitation. This is the reason why the demand for rubber surfacing for senior care centers is increasing.
Make sure you choose a surface that’s safe with consistent friction. This will give the seniors the confidence of a firm footing at every step.
Serious injuries and fractures owing to falls are a huge concern in seniors, especially in health and social care settings. Hence, you need a springy surfacing material that can absorb the impact of a fall.
Opt for a cushiony material that’s not just comfortable underfoot but also has a good shock-absorbing potential. For instance, materials like rubber are known to offer great cushioning underfoot because of their elasticity. Rubber also possesses thermal and sound-insulating properties. All this makes rubber an ideal surfacing option for senior care centers.
On the other hand, ceramic tiles and hardwood floors are not suitable for senior care communities as they have zero shock-absorbing properties.
In seniors, the immune system doesn’t work at an optimal rate. Hence, the aging population is more susceptible to infections, allergies, and other comorbid conditions that affect their overall wellbeing.
Hence, senior care centers should keep hygiene as the top priority, especially in the wake of the pandemic. So, when it comes to flooring, you need a surface that’s inhospitable to pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
A surface like wall-to-wall carpeting may seem ideal for senior care centers. However, carpets are known to be home to a host of pathogens, dust mites, and allergens that could make the senior residents ill.
Make sure you choose a hygienic surface that doesn’t support the proliferation of pathogens and is easy to clean and maintain.
Floors frequented by seniors should not just be functional, durable, and good-looking but also offer them adequate cushioning and comfort. Consider these questions that will help you choose an appropriate surface for your senior care facility.
- Is the flooring slip-resistant?
- Will the surfacing offer adequate cushioning in case of fall?
- Is the flooring easy to traverse on? Will it make spaces accessible to seniors using a walker or wheelchair?
- Is the surface easy to clean and maintain?
If you are planning to resurface your senior care facility, get in touch with River Rock Resurfacing. Our surfacing experts will help you make a suitable decision, transforming the facility into a haven for seniors.