If you weren’t familiar with care home environments, you might question why these environments would need wall protection – after all, aren’t long-term care homes all quiet, serene spaces with residents resting pleasantly in bed or on lounge chairs?
It’s true that care homes are homey, restful environments – they have to be, for the wellbeing of their residents. But care homes are also hardworking healthcare settings that have to withstand a surprising amount of wear and tear, and as a result, it’s vital that their interiors are properly protected.
A main cause of wall damage in the care home is wheeled traffic along hallways, through doorways and in communal spaces. A significant percentage of care home residents suffer from mobility issues, requiring them to use a walking aid or wheelchair. Even with today’s advancements, wheelchairs can be hard to manoeuvre, resulting in frequent bumps and scrapes to walls and door frames from their handles and foot plates.
Many care homes have wide hallways and automatic fire doors that can keep this damage to a minimum – but almost all experience high levels of wear and tear around individual room doorways, and the entrances to communal facilities such as shower and dining rooms.
It’s ironic that the areas most prone to damage are the same areas where infection control is most important – damaged wall surfaces around bathing and dining areas can provide a perfect place for germs like E.coli to multiply, risking onward contamination of another resident or staff member’s hands, so it’s really important that walls and corners are protected from damage in the first place, and also easy to keep clean.
Carts & trollies
Another major cause of damage to care home walls and corners is cart traffic. Carts are widely used in these environments, whether it’s for domestic cleaning staff, dispensing daily medications, or delivering hot meals directly to the resident’s room. These carts are often large and heavy, making precision manoeuvring a tricky task, and resulting in frequent bumps and scrapes against walls, door frames and furniture. These small collisions may not cause a lot of damage individually, but over time they add up to significant wear and tear to masonry, drywall and painted wood finishes. As a result, care home interiors can start to look tired in a short space of time – perhaps as little as 1-2 years after a refurbishment – as well as being more difficult to keep clean.
Wall protection and corner guards can extend the life of the care home interior dramatically – up to 20 years if you select PVCu wall protection, which is less prone to cracking and chipping than its FRP counterpart. PVCu can even be thermoformed so there’s no need for separate corner guards – the material can be moulded around door frame and windows using a single sheet, so there are fewer joins where dirt and germs can accumulate.
Whatever material you choose, however, the key point is that wall protection is much more durable than walls; it absorbs far more wear and tear before beginning to show visible signs, and being made from non-porous material, it’s far easier to disinfect as part of your daily hygiene regime. When it needs to be replaced, the underlying surface will be pristine, making for a straightforward refurbishment with no messy structural works required.
Last but not least, wall and corner protection can be a design element within the care home interior. Gone are the days of plain wall sheeting with an institutional feel – today’s wall protection products come in a staggering array of colours, finishes and profiles to suit any interior aesthetic. It’s easy to create effects that can enhance the look of your interior as well as making it safer and more durable. For behind-the-scenes areas like kitchens and laundries, there are also stainless steel options that are designed to withstand decades of heavy-duty use.
To find out more about why wall and corner protection is a must for care home interiors, or to discuss options for your next refurbishment, contact Dan Lawrenson – firstname.lastname@example.org.