Covered With Care

Furnish, specialist in fire-retardant curtains, blinds and soſt furnishings for the healthcare and hospitality sectors, discusses the importance of voiles in care environments.

As we approach the end of winter and the welcome lengthening of days, we are all reluctant to draw heavy curtains that block out the natural daylight. In a care environment there can be numerous times during the course of a day when residents require privacy in their rooms, such as help with bathing or dressing, the use of a commode or a GP’s visit. Similarly, in communal dining areas and lounges there may be times of the day when diffusing full sunlight might also be needed to maintain the comfort of residents.

Voiles, as we like to call them in the industry, or sheers, have come a long way from the days of ‘mum’s net curtains’. They are easy to use, offer flexibility, are cost effective, and easy to launder. The variety of thicknesses, styles and hanging options provide a huge range of choice and they are an affordable and effective way of providing privacy, quickly and easily without compromising the aesthetics of a room or reducing light levels too much.

Methods of hanging have also changed considerably; voiles on tracks add soſtness to a room without restricting

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the view and the light, and are easily drawn back. In environments where there are mental health or dementia considerations, motorised roller blinds are a good option as they completely eliminate the chains and cords which can present safety hazards.

Whilst on the topic of dementia, undressed windows at night effectively become mirrors and can be distressing to a person with dementia who may not recognise the reflection as their own. We oſten suggest the addition of voiles in bedrooms; a simple solution that can reduce the potential for distress. The choice of colour also plays an important role in creating soothing environments and good use of colour and contrast also helps those with failing eyesight.

Undressed bathroom windows are also worth considering – frosted glass may provide privacy during the day but at night that is vastly reduced. In residential environments you may have been subject to the blurred vision of nevertheless a very much naked (and unaware) body in a bathroom - so voiles or blinds are a good fail-safe of ensuring privacy is maintained.

We would of course recommend fire retardant voiles; many clients are surprised to find that fire retardant fabrics are not in fact more expensive. Fire is obviously a risk in care home environments where residents are less agile, more susceptible to confusion and less able to respond quickly in the event of an emergency.

Should a fire break out, fire retardant soſt furnishings buy valuable time; in less than two minutes untreated curtains and furnishings become the source of a major life-threatening fire while a fire around a treated fabric is still at a manageable level.

Whatever our age, privacy and dignity is something that is important to all of us and is recognised by the CQC under Regulation 10 Dignity and Respect. Whilst the CQC can’t prosecute for breach of this regulation, it can take regulatory action or refuse registration for non- compliance. In care environments where residents and patients are vulnerable, it is even more important that we ensure that those in our care have access to this basic human right.

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