There has been a great deal of conversation recently about the carpet at Brookside. I would like to give you all the facts about the carpet that we installed at Brookside, and how and why the decision was made to use carpet as opposed to hard-surface flooring.
When our design group from Eppstein Uhen Architects presented their design for Brookside, which included carpeting as the floor covering, most of us were quite surprised about this and skeptical that carpet was the right choice. We wondered how on earth we would keep carpet clean and up to our high standards of cleanliness at Brookside. So we went to work to find out everything we could about carpeting in nursing homes.
The bottom line is that the entire Brookside Project Team extensively researched what the best flooring would be for the Project. This research took into account the most recent science/evidence regarding floor covering options and the impact of floor covering on: slips/falls, bacteria, allergens, visual comfort, acoustic comfort and maintenance. Taking all of this information into consideration, the high-performance, health-care intended flooring (carpet) we selected appeared to provide the best solution.
Senior care environment design is centered on residents having a comfortable space that is healthy, aesthetically pleasing and homelike. New senior care communities, such as ours, are built using evidence-based design. That involves research, project evaluations, expert designer input, resident input and nursing home input.
The “new” healthcare design incorporates several features, such as access to natural light, colorful carpet, improved airflow, home-like features and providing a hospitality (hotel) look as opposed to an institutional/ hospital look.
A big concern in design for senior living communities is safety and mobility. Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury and deaths in seniors? So much so that Medicare and Medicaid will not pay for any costs associated with falls that happen in a hospital.
Research has shown that carpeting is safer than solid-surface floors. There are far fewer falls due to slips and trips on carpeted floors. I know this to be true because there used to be a lot more falls at Brookside on the solid-surface floors, due to slipping on wet floors. This is true for staff and residents.
In fact, since moving into this building with the carpet, our overall percentage of falls has decreased and the number of falls with significant injury has dropped to ZERO since our move in May, down from 4 in the previous six months.
We knew we had to choose the right carpet, and that is something that we made sure to do. Ours is “healthcare-grade carpet,” and is not the type of carpet that you would find in a home. This carpet has soil and stain resistant fibers and the backing is impermeable to moisture. That means that liquids or solids, no matter what they are, will not be able to absorb and penetrate to the floor surface. That is a critical difference between solid floor covering and carpet. Hard-floor surfaces have many seams and cracks and moisture can get into those cracks. Those wet cracks can act as breeding grounds for germs and odors. Healthcare-grade carpeted surfaces don’t allow that to occur.
Another good feature is that carpet is good for nurses and nurses’ aides. Our caregivers walk between 4 to 6 miles a day. Carpet cushions the step, reduces leg fatigue and reduces the incidence of plantar fasciitis and heal spurs.
Another benefit is areas that have carpeted floors have better air quality than solid-floor surfaces. Research has shown that dust concentration in an indoor room with smooth flooring material is 2 times as high as compared to a room with wall-to-wall carpet.
Glare is another problem that solid floors can produce. Glare on floors is dangerous for those people with low vision and it can inhibit freedom of movement. For people with memory care issues, a floor with glare can actually cause confusion and fear.
And last, but not least, carpet absorbs sound. Our hallways and bedrooms are much quieter for sure.
Overall, carpet contributes to a healing environment. Carpet can aide in safety, ergonomics, acoustics, maintenance and odor control and indoor air quality.
I hope this has helped you understand the benefits of a carpeted environments and how we took all of the research and experience into the design of Brookside.
Written by Brookside Care Center's administrator, Frances Petrick, RN, NHA