With the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic, and winter snapping at our heels, the stakes have never been higher for care operators to ensure the highest possible standards of infection control throughout their homes.
Strict routines and procedures around cleaning, hand-washing, and social distancing – as far as can be achieved – are vital elements of every infection control strategy. However, many homes are realising that these efforts will be undermined unless equal attention is paid to the inherent safety of the physical environment. Furniture, furnishings, flooring, surfaces – they all represent your first line of defence against bacteria and viruses.
Anti-microbial Interiors: an under-used weapon in the fight against infection
You can embed cleanliness and germ resistance into your environment by opting for upholstery, furniture and surfaces that are high quality, easy to clean, and anti-microbial by design.
Interiors with germ-blitzing properties are not new; many manufacturers already offer impressive anti-bacterial and anti-viral ranges. For instance, Agua Fabrics’ AguaGuard365 inhibits viruses and kills bacteria on contact with the surface; Danfloor offer carpets with an impervious membrane and antimicrobial twist (Bi-ome) to prevent the spread of infection; and Polyflor has a range of vinyl flooring that does not support growth of bacteria and viruses. Various furniture manufacturers can apply an anti-bacterial lacquer to chairs and tables.
Yet in my role as an independent Interiors consultant, I would say that the benefits of anti-microbial technology have never been fully appreciated by care homes. In truth, products have often been chosen because the design happens to fit a room scheme, not specifically because they eliminate or slow down the growth of microbes.
But in the Covid era, attitudes are changing fast.
In a recent conversation with one of my clients, Paul Richards CEO of Rusthall Lodge Care Home in Kent, commented:
It’s clear that design and fit-out have a major role to play in safeguarding our homes and reassuring families that we are doing all we can to combat Coronavirus. Anti-microbial products are high on the agenda for refurbishments and fit-outs, especially for areas that may have been overlooked in the past such as curtains and carpeting.”
Paul also highlighted the importance of balancing comfort and aesthetics with the need for cleanliness and durability. It is certainly true that the quality of Interiors is under scrutiny like never before; they simply must be able to support the current requirements for rigorous, frequent cleaning. On the aesthetics point, I would reassure homes that manufacturers have made great strides in extending the range and visual appeal of anti-microbial fabrics and flooring. Interiors with a superior safety profile do not look institutional or less stylish – in fact, quite the opposite!
As you would expect, manufacturers are keen to demonstrate their products’ effectiveness in fending off microorganisms including Coronavirus, and bacteria. The Panaz Shield Plus range of fabrics are ISO 18184:2019-certified against the Coronavirus strain. Then in the instance of combating bacteria, Kronospan offers a range of high-pressure laminates that are certified as anti-bacterial in accordance with ISO 22196.
While sometimes hard to navigate, compliance with industry standards provides valuable reassurance for any care home looking to upgrade their Interiors.
Care homes are under pressure to take every measure possible to gear up for winter, combat Covid-19 and reassure stakeholders of their commitment to safeguarding the environment for residents and staff alike. It is quite evident that there is no way of completely eliminating the risk of an infection outbreak, but specialist, anti-microbial fabrics, surfaces and treated furniture – especially those certified to independent standards – provide a strong foundation on which to build your wider infection control strategy.
Are you interested in an Interiors consultation for your care home? Do you want to find out more about Interiors that not only tick the design box but take hygiene standards to the next level? I would love to hear from you! Please get in touch with me on 07385 362537 or firstname.lastname@example.org.