Old people’s home design considerations.
Old age requires a lot of attention and convenience and so must receive them during the design of an old people’s home.
Though it’s institutional place, but we usually don’t like making it look like one. For such homes like old people’s homes, we give it the domestic feel. For one we know that residents in these kind of homes are kind of incapacitated and hereby don’t need all that sophisticated feeling that comes with institutional places like hospitals or health centre. Most people don’t just visit this homes, some live here permanently. So it is important to note that a home is a home no matter where it is. Careful thoughts and consideration are put into consideration while planning or designing VERY SHELTERED HOMES (VSH) for old/incapacitated people.
Old people’s home staff, encourage this aged people to do things for themselves. Helping themselves helps them move about which is a form of exercise needed by their bodies to stay strong and healthy. So, here are some very important details to consider when designing a home for old people.
• Kitchen for Users: this is where their food is prepared. It is very close to the dining hall which is next close to the communal lounge where visitors are received.
• Rooms: the rooms should be designed to wheel chair standard (doors should be large enough to allow wheel chairs in and out conveniently); containing lounges, bedrooms, kitchenette, and shower room. This means that every room inhabited by a patient should be self-contained.
• Communal lounge often linked to the dining room
• Lift Access To All Floors: there has to be lift banks installed to lead to all floors. This is putting into consideration that old people are weak hence won’t find it easy climbing the stairs just to get to their respective rooms.
• Communal Laundry: fully equipped laundry room for washing of cloths
• Wheelchair/scooter recharging store
• Communication: door bell should be fixed in rooms. To make it easier use door bells that double as intercom, or in a real case, an intercom that doubles as doorbell. The telephone should be of large numbers to enable those with sight problems see properly.
• Guest accommodation
• Taps: choose taps with lever head not knobs. People with arthritic fingers can be able to turn it on for themselves with ease and less pain.
• Bathrooms: should be large enough to contain the patient and a staff lending a helping hand. Wash hand basin should be mounted with their rims not more than 850mm above the ground. The bath rims should be mounted not more than 380mm above the ground. A grab handle or pole should be mounted right next to the bath to enable them climb in and out of the tub. WCs should have a maximum height of 380mm and should be fitted with a hand rail close to it to aid sitting and standing up. Bathroom floor should be non slippery. Old people prefer shower to bath tub. Water should be regulated to automatic 35-49 degree Celsius. Shower floor should be non slippery.
• Wall Switch: instead of the normal 1-foot from the ground; consider fixing your wall switch at a tabletop height. This will enable those with waist pain or back pain to bend with ease.
• Non-Resident Building Manager: the building manager does not necessarily have to live in as long as he can manage his team very well.
• Separate Care Team Based On Site; Offering 24h Care. Facilities for Staff to Include Office, Rest, Meeting, Changing and Sleepover Accommodation: since the building manager does not stay in, his staff has to resident to take proper care of the patients staying in this facility. Everything they need should be provided; so they don’t have need for staying outside. Their quarters need to be build separately from the main building but should be in same site.
• Community Services, Such As Hairdressing, Chiropody, Shop, And Etc Extra: the facility could think of extra income with these. Especially if the site is located in some quiet secluded area.
• Adequate Passing Point for Wheelchairs and Scooter: corridors should be wide enough to accommodate them. Spaces are wide enough too to enable an adequate turning point for them.
• Removal of obstructions such as fire compartment doors which could be held open on magnetic pads
• Good Natural and Artificial lighting: the use of natural lighting is good in places like this: it makes them comfortable and connects them better to nature, not forgetting the home-feeling.
• Need for Natural Light: sunlight contains vitamin D which helps absorb calcium better. It’s been reported that sunlight therapy helps cure depression in older people. Enough windows should be installed to let in natural day light into the house.
• Carefully Selected Use of Tones, Colors and Tactile Material for Disoriented Patients: some patients react to a particular color, light, material or feel. Carefully make selections of these materials that would be pleasing to these old people, and not worsen their conditions.
• Careful Planning To Reduce the Length of Corridors and Reduce Institutional Feel: home corridors are not long. If you wanna make this institute a home, keep the corridor short.
• Use of symbols and graphics on the walls to help older persons with dementia with circulation
• Door Levers Instead Of Door Knobs: old people and even children find it easier to open a door with a lever instead knob. Considering some old folks might be down with arthritis in their hands; turning a door knob comes with great pain and difficulty, here a lever comes in better. Also one can open a lever by simply applying pressure with the arm and the door flings open.
• Vertically Inclined Handrails for Toilet Seats: this is to act as support. Helps them sit and stand from a bath.
• Pole to Assist Old People Get In And Out Of Bath: baths can be very slippery. Poles act as support for getting in and out of the bath.
• Rocker Type Light Switch: this is better than the conventional switch. It can be used by both old and young. All you have to do is apply pressure with any part of your body especially your elbow and you can control the light.
• Furniture: cupboard rail should be mounted at least 1.5m above the ground and the cupboards should be at least 550mm deep. Dining tables should be 700mm while seat height should be 430mm with 380mm depth. Sitting chairs should not be made too low as this would pose difficulty while trying to stand. Seats should be a bit high so the feet may rest well off the ground thereby making standing easier. A seat depth of 410mm to 470mm is ideal. An extra footstool might be required for those with extra short legs. The back should be angled vertically at 28 degrees to provide comfortable back rest.
• Hand Rail in Bath to Help Them Stand Up After Bath: as earlier mentioned; bath tubs are slippery. A handrail fixed in a bath tub will support hem stand up after bathing.
• Bath Tub Height Should Be Minimal At Least 380mm: to make it easier for them to climb; do not install the normal bath tub for adults. Make provision for a tub with a minimal height of 380mm so they don’t fall while attempting to climb a bath tub.
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