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Safe furniture design should also be comfortable and stylish


With an increasing focus on creating stimulating mental health environments which nurture recovery, intelligent furniture design is playing a more important role than ever writes Neville Byng, sales and marketing consultant with healthcare furniture specialist Pineapple Contracts


© Pineapple Contracts I


n mental health and other challenging environments where safety is the primary focus, there are a number of furniture design features which should be incorporated to reduce


risk as much as possible. Due to their height, wardrobes in particular present a


number of ligature opportunities. Modifications can be made to reduce these risks: hanging rails can be replaced by half-depth shelves with a recess to hold hangers; piano hinges that run the full length of the doors can be used in place of two separate hinges; and door handles can be re-designed to make them safer. Chairs and sofas can also be adapted to make them more


suited to challenging environments. Standard products can be internally reinforced and additional weight can be added in the pursuit of improved safety and strength. For more complex needs, there are an increasing number of specially-designed products that are pushing the boundaries of design and manufacture – using rotational moulding, for example – to provide better solutions to care-giving problems.


Infection control


Another important aspect to providing care in challenging environments is the management of incontinence. Sensitive design can make a huge difference for patients, but also to the staff who are responsible for maintaining exemplary levels of hygiene. Firstly, better ‘hygiene gaps’ can be designed, to minimise the


amount of dirt which can become trapped on or in a piece of furniture in the first place. When cleaning does become necessary, careful design can


make the process less onerous and time consuming – which also increases the likelihood of regular cleaning – and can improve its effectiveness.


Fabrics


There is a wide range of commercial upholstery that is suitable for healthcare environments, in other words fire retardant to


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