The flooring in a senior housing establishment has extremely steep requirements to fulfill. With more and more people choosing senior housing, residents need a “home away from home” environment that gives them comfort and an easy transition. Not only do they need an environment that reminds them of home, they also need flooring that will keep them healthy and safe.
Safety is #1 in a senior housing facility and liability issues that come from people injuring themselves must be considered. With senior citizens the chance of injury is greater, so more precautions have to be taken to prevent this. A lot of wheels are present in the form of supply carts, wheelchairs, and walkers; therefore the flooring needs to have smooth transitions from room to room allowing the inhabitants to get around safely.
There are numerous types of bacteria and germs present in a senior housing facility so choosing a floor that is easy to clean and is antimicrobial is important. There are also a lot of unpleasant smells the flooring can take on so for marketability reasons alone, it is important that the facility remains smelling clean.
Since there are typically a lot of visitors and a 24 hour staff, the flooring needs to dampen the noise of feet and wheels so patients can rest and not be disturbed.
The harder the floor is, the more likely an accident will turn into an injury. The use of soft, flexible materials on the other hand, can act as a cushion of safety, stretching across the entire space.
Always choose slip resistant floors when choosing materials for applications that will be used by senior citizens. Flooring options that can have additional traction added to the surface may want to be considered in bathrooms, kitchens, and other spaces where water is present.
As people get older the gate of their walk changes, and they tend to start shuffling their feet more. This can be particularly dangerous if the floor beneath them is uneven in any way, as they will be prone to trip. To avoid this, you’ll want to make sure that the flooring material is flat, and that the transitions (if any) from room to room are as level as possible.
In an environment that will most likely need consistent cleaning and maintenance, it is important to choose a flooring material that is easy to clean and can eliminate germs after disinfecting. This will also help keep maintenance time and expenditures down.
Different types of flooring can also have an effect on the indoor air quality of a space. Some materials can produce small amounts of toxic Volatile Organic Chemicals, which can cause problems for elderly residents with breathing problems. Some carpets will also attract dust and small dirt particles which can then also end up in the air.
Recommended Flooring for Senior Housing Facilities
Luxury Vinyl: Resilient vinyl flooring is very easy to keep clean. Nearly impenetrable by water, vinyl flooring generally does not stain, and almost any cleansing solution can be used to disinfect its surface. It can also be combined with a padded underlayment layer, which will make the floor softer and more absorbent, helping lessen the impact of falls.
Linoleum: Also considered a resilient floor, linoleum is similar to vinyl, but is made from all-natural linseed oil. This means that it doesn’t emit any of the toxic gasses that can occur with synthetic materials. It is easy to clean and resistant to stains, however it isn’t as water tight as vinyl so it could be damaged by large amounts of free standing water.
Cork: A naturally soft, padded flooring material, cork can act as a kind of safety net, protecting against injuries that can occur from trips and falls. Although it is generally affected by larger amounts of water, a commercial waxing treatment can make it more resistant to water and stains, making it easier to clean and sanitize.
Rubber: This is also a soft, safe, padded flooring choice that is naturally immune to water penetration and most staining agents. The possible drawback to rubber flooring is a slight smell, which is harmless to most people, but can be irritating to a small number of individuals.
Carpet: Carpet has the highest comfort factor of any flooring type. It has a familiar “home” like feel that really helps residents feel safer and more comfortable. It also feels soft beneath the feet and can help decrease injuries from slips and falls. The only drawbacks are the difficulty with keeping it clean and it can house harmful germs and bacteria, resulting in a less clean and safe environment.
Senior housing facilities today are undergoing an incredible transformation. They are no longer reserved and unwelcoming as they once were, and are instead designed to be an extension of the home life each of the residents once knew. They focus on living life instead of being an “end of life” residence.
With this energetic shift comes new and innovating designs for senior living facilities. A heavy emphasis is placed on creating a comfortable and contemporary aesthetic that is reminiscent of home life with soothing wall colors, cozy furniture, and most importantly, the right type of flooring that seniors need.
Top Performer for Senior Flooring
And the winner is…. Luxury Vinyl Tile and Plank! It checks almost all of the boxes when comparing flooring materials and the requirements of the application.
√ Durability- It can take a beating from heavy foot and wheel traffic.
√ Digital Graphic Application- It mimics natural materials, such as wood and stone. This helps with familiarity for residents.
√ Easy install.
√ Nearly impenetrable which cuts down on maintenance cost and time.
√ Comfortable- A padded underlayment can increase the safety and comfort factors even more.
√ Clean and Sterile- Its hard surface makes it easy to clean and eliminates germs after being disinfected.
√ Perfect For Any Room- Common space, dining rooms, kitchens, hallways, bathrooms, or even individual resident rooms.
√ High Safety Rating- Transitions are nearly seamless so it can decrease the risk of trips and falls.