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Care Home Management: Refreshing care home interiors, benefits to mental health

The nicer the interior the better staff morale!

Paying attention to the interior design of your care home environment isn’t just good business it’s an investment in maintaining a happier environment, not just for residents but staff too.

The pandemic really put the spotlight on the care sector; it was a physically and emotionally draining time for everyone who worked in the sector. It’s only now we’re seeing the true cost. After a significant research survey by the Care Workers’ Union, findings highlighted ‘75% of respondents reported that pandemic work has caused worsened mental health and a sharp increase in anxiety.’ 1

Designing an interior isn’t just about making something look pretty. Function forms a large part of the design process. The process should be about the experience and how it makes people feel.
Many times I have received comments from staff and residents who have said ‘this is nicer than my home’, ‘I feel really proud to work here’, ‘I never thought I’d live somewhere like this’. Interiors are about how they make people feel, which is hugely positive when it comes to lifting moods and improving mental wellbeing. Lockdown made us realise that our interiors have to be everything to us, a care home is no different.

It has to be able to function as a care environment but also as a ‘home’. It doesn’t need to look like a sterile collection of rooms ready for their next wipe-down of bleach. Technology is so advanced that carpets, wall coverings, and upholstery don’t have to be a hygiene burden, these now have the benefit of antimicrobial treatments to mitigate infection risk providing the opportunity to create homely environments much like we would in a private home.

We are especially keen to involve staff at the point of installation from teaching them how to position furniture, dress a bookcase or position a cushion. It all sounds pretty straight forward, but actually making sure the zips on cushions are at the bottom, positioning a chair to be accessible or arranging a bookcase so it’s engaging is good knowledge to have. It ensures that the home continues to look as it did at the point of installation.

It’s noticeable how staff continue to arrange and plump the cushions, arrange the drapes, position seating. You can see they cherish it, and it’s obvious it creates a happy environment and happy mind. So, as we emerge from the pandemic what can we do to create a positive working environment?

Here are my top tips:

Make it a home:
With shift patterns and unsociable hours a comfortable uplifting work environment makes the mental shift into work mode so much easier and pleasing.
Appropriate Furniture:
Chair heights that are just right, flooring that guides not confuses, rooms that look like their function. Furnishings that are pleasing. These are simple things that make it easy to live and work in that space.
Childlike furnishings and play areas. This is an adult space for adults who have lived in their own homes most of their lives, it makes sense to ensure they continue to experience the benefits of a homely environment.