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PHYSICAL DISABILITY Let There Be Light


Stuart Reynolds, Head of Product and Marketing at AKW, discusses why it is essential for care home managers to carefully consider lighting when ensuring that bathrooms are accessible for those with disabilities or limited mobility.


The image on the leſt shows an accessible bathroom without AKW’s task focused lighting, uneven lighting, shadows and dark areas. The image on the leſt shows the same bathroom with AKW’s task focused lighting, to ensure the bathroom is sufficiently lit.


Statistics from NICE, 2013 have shown that 30% of people over the age of 65 will fall at least once a year and, for those aged 80 and over, this rises to 50%. However, care home residents are three times more likely to fall than their community dwelling peers and ten times more likely to sustain a significant injury as a result, according to Department of Health, 2009.


Although a multi-faceted approach is needed to reduce the risk of falls, such as sight tests, hazard assessments and medication reviews, the role of good lighting cannot be underestimated, particularly in high-fall-risk areas such as the bathroom.


When asked about the lighting in bathrooms, Occupational Therapist Kate Sheehan said: “Tasks carried out in a bathroom oſten require close working, such as shaving or make up application, or intimate personal hygiene such as wiping aſter going to the toilet or washing between the toes. All of these actions require the occupational therapists to maximise the client’s ability to perform the task and lighting is a critical part of the assessment and specification.”


A mix of task-specific lighting and overall ambient lighting is needed to deliver adequate light levels for showering, shaving and other personal care activities. For those with low vision or mobility issues, the avoidance of shadows, dark areas and


- 32 - glare are key to safe movement around the space.


Task-focused lighting is best achieved through the use of fittings installed on the ceiling that contain an LED which throws a narrow beam of light onto a specific space, such as the shower area, or sink. To maintain ambient light levels in the bathroom, however, LED ceiling lights should be spaced to maximise coverage and minimise shadowing.


It is recommended that task lights are distributed in the following way (with the user no closer than 300mm to any given task light). A toilet requires one task light, as does a hand basin. However, three task lights are recommended for areas such as a shower (for a space of 1500mm x 1500mm) and/or a bath.


Most LED downlights on the market are designed to provide a wide area of light and therefore usually have a beam angle of 60°. However, for task lighting for those with low vision or mobility issues in the bathroom, a specialist task light with a 30° beam angle is required. This narrower beam of light is up to 100% brighter than a standard 60° beam-angled LED. This means that, if this is installed instead of a 30° LED task light, it will only be half as effective.


To light the space well, without it feeling stark or ‘medical’, think about including warm-coloured LED lighting – choose


www.tomorrowscare.co.uk


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