Who knew flooring could be detrimental to overall good health? Evidence suggests that standing on hard surfaces can in fact inflict pain and cause health complications. Many care home employees work long hours and spend a lot of time on their feet, on what can be hard, unforgiving floors that can impact physical health and affect muscles and joints.
When a person walks on hard flooring, such as marble or granite, the knee joint is subject to high ground impact forces, which increase the wear and tear of the cartilage. This joint damage can have long lasting effects, particularly on the knees and hips. In addition, pain and discomfort in the feet can cause diminished levels of concentration and general fatigue
So what needs to be considered when specifying flooring to ensure that members of staff receive maximum comfort while protecting their physical health?
Anti-fatigue flooring helps to reduce fatigue and increase general wellbeing and productivity by delivering a certain amount of relief, providing a cushion to the feet and helping to support them.
Certain floor coverings, including LVT promote an easier flow of blood back to the heart and reduce tension and pressure on the spine. Reducing fatigue automatically makes for a safer environment.
Weighing up the options
There are many different surfaces that can provide an anti-fatigue solution. Here are just a few:
Luxury Vinyl Tile – Durable and simple to maintain, LVT is a smart choice, particularly for healthcare environments as it’s made to withstand high traffic areas. Vinyl is capable of taking on the texture of whatever you put beneath it so recommended options would be foam padding or cork.
Rubber – Great for functionality and insulation, this is a high performance surface material that is especially good for those who list slip resistance as their prime consideration.
Carpet – There is no doubt that carpet is always going to prove a winner for comfort, however it needs to be durable in any sort of commercial or health care environment. CFS Scala Solutions is a good example, due to its impervious backing. However, this doesn’t mean comfort should be sacrificed for durability. Any type of carpeting will help to eliminate sore feet to some extent as it absorbs the shock of contact with the floor and provides a cushioning effect.
Considerations when specifying floor surfaces
Slipping is a major concern for both residents and tired workers so assessing the slip resistance of the surfaces should always be a key consideration. It is particularly important as over 50 per cent of RIDDOR reported major injuries in healthcare facilities relate to slips, trips and falls. All products specified should comply with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
In terms of colour choices, most of the anti-fatigue floor coverings now come in a range of colours which helps when specifying for care homes. Research points to colours having a significant impact on residents, with splashes of colour proving especially beneficial. For example, blue is thought to particularly boost creativity.
What does all this mean?
It makes sense to give the flooring aspect of a care home’s interior particular attention, as the choice of flooring can not only provide health and safety benefits for residents, but keep workers healthier, more motivated and, ultimately, more productive, and who wouldn’t want this for their business?