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Interior design


Much like the evolution of television from its early days to the individual user requirements offered by today’s streaming services, interiors are moving toward a more personalised approach. If offering a wide choice of room types is not cost effective in your facility, why not consider solid colours for curtains, walls and flooring with a variety of soft furnishing accents from which new residents can choose? Ultimately, we are seeking an emotional buy-in from the resident into their new environment. I often see care home rooms with a favourite armchair from the resident’s previous dwelling. It is highly unlikely this will have been upholstered in a Crib 5 fabric in keeping with UK fire regulations for a commercial property. Asking the family to re-upholster and provide a certificate is one solution, but case goods generally require no regulatory hoops. Having one’s own bookcase or wardrobe, in addition to private artwork, adds to the personalisation of a space. If allowing case goods to be brought into your facility please make sure your maintenance team checks each piece for safety, and especially the backs of wooden items for any sign of mould—and treating where necessary. Brought- in furniture will have implications on the amount of storage required for any case goods not being used.


We will touch on storage shortly but let us continue with aesthetics for the moment. What should a state-of-the-art care home look like? Often in our work with retirement operators we find they have really differentiated their marketplace offering through aesthetics and price.


That is less obvious in many care homes, where location appears to take a more central role in the decision making of potential clients. As competition increases through demographic shifts, differentiation will become even more


When considering your new build or refurbishment, make sure you are also investing in your state-of-the art future


important in care homes. What might be common denominators between residents - gardening, fitness, art? With the Royal Star & Garter again as the example, these homes cater to ex- military men and women from all UK branches of service. Everyone’s taste will not be the same; but drawing on a central theme or interest can help inform front of house choices which are accepted and meaningful to all.


The bar in the High Wycombe home has been clad in bronze donation plaques from previous centuries but all of which are relevant to this group. It is a design intervention unique to this home. The ceiling ‘beams’ not only differentiate the seating area, but also have acoustic properties. Well- considered acoustics are another feature of state-of-the-art care and dementia design we expect to be given greater consideration in the future. We used a central back-lit art piece of art; a compass, reflecting the various directions and choices we all take through life, but also a common military tool. In front of this piece are chairs upholstered in military wool felt with


brass uniform buttons. Again, a unique design for a specific group of residents. What is equally important about this piece is that it can be changed for another piece of art in the future, a request from the chief executive. True ‘home’ interiors are not static and through lighting, feature wall finishes and easy-change art hanging systems a care home can evolve over time without major capital investment. After all, the aesthetics for future generations will not be the flowery patterns and colour palates of the 1980s but are more likely to be graffiti! State-of-the-art design allows for an evolution in aesthetic taste. Changes in the use of space are also critical to the success of new builds. No- one can predict what the activities of the future will be. As I have already mentioned, as financial models change it may make sense to bring more day guests into a home or to interact in a more meaningful way with a local community. Designing transformational spaces which can easily adapt will be key. The dining room of the Royal Star & Garter home in High Wycombe can be broken into larger or smaller spaces through


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www.thecarehomeenvironment.com • July 2020


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