Viruses love spaces where people gather in close proximity, such as long-term care and retirement homes with vulnerable populations. With the COVID-19 global pandemic, we urgently need to reassess our environments to better protect those most at risk: infants, young children, and especially immune-compromised and elderly people.

Around the world, governments are mandating self isolation, social distancing, and stronger cleansing protocols such as frequent hand washing. These mandates are an attempt to flatten the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, Canada is imposing strong measures to ensure the general population adheres to these directives and to reduce the spread. Canada is the first country to pull out of the summer Olympics, state of emergencies are being implemented across the country, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is warning of criminal sanctions for people who ignore distancing requirements. This is not the seasonal flu, as some originally thought and suggested.

But even when this crisis passes, prudent measures will need to remain to protect against further outbreaks. Healthcare environments, such as long-term care and retirement homes, are known zones for viruses. They can accumulate in spaces that includes waiting rooms, lounges, and common areas intended for patient and resident use. It is an absolute necessity to consider the role quality healthcare furniture can play in reducing the risks of spreading and contracting COVID-19.

Healthcare Facilities Are Known Reservoirs for a Variety of Viruses and Bacteria

The healthcare environment is a known reservoir for bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which can potentially survive on surfaces for days to months. Contaminated surfaces in care areas may play a role in the transmission of infection. Effective cleaning and disinfection measures can help reduce the risk of transmission, as can the use of quality, easy-to-clean healthcare furniture.

Here are some tips from experts regarding healthcare furniture that makes the job of limiting transmissions easier:

  • Ensure that furniture purchased is easy to clean.
  • Select furniture designed for use in a healthcare setting, or locales like long-term care and retirement homes. Don’t buy furnishing or items intended for household use.
  • Furniture purchased has to be sturdy enough to handle frequent cleanings.
  • Fabrics used for upholstered furniture need to be fluid resistant, non-porous, with the ability to withstand very strong disinfectants. Stay away from leather and wood surfaces.
  • When it comes to the design of healthcare furniture, choose simple ones, as more complicated designs, with grooves and creases, are harder to clean. Furniture surfaces should be non-porous and sealed.
  • And, the furniture selected should be sturdy enough to withstand a range of use-and-abuse demands.

Don’t Forget About the Look and Feel of Healthcare Furniture

While ensuring that healthcare furniture is easy to clean and maintain, let’s take a moment to consider the aesthetics of the matter. Great design does not need to be compromised when selecting furniture for a healthcare setting. Product choices can be comfortable and visibly appealing, as well as being functional. Helping patients and residents relax plays a key role in enhancing their mood, reducing anxiety, and reassuring them that they are in an environment which has their best interests at heart.

Here are some suggestions along the ‘look, feel, and appeal’ line of thought:

  • Simply put, quality furniture makes a great impression. It conveys a message of comfort, reliability, and reassurance that patients and residents need and want.
  • Waiting rooms and lobbies are important areas for quality healthcare furniture, as they are often the introduction to a care facility. If someone’s first reaction to a care facility is a positive one, anxiety and apprehension will ease, enhancing the experience.
  • Make sure that when selecting healthcare furniture, attention is paid to size and structure, to accommodate all types of body shapes. Comfort doesn’t come in a one-style-fits-all approach.
  • It’s also a good idea to purchase quality healthcare furniture, to ensure the investment lasts. You don’t want to be buying new furniture every year or so.
  • And be sure to purchase from a company that specializes in healthcare furniture.

Data shows that each year, more than 12,000 Canadians are hospitalized due to complications from the flu, with 3,500 deaths. Those most at risk include infants, young children, and elderly people. And as shown by the COVID-19 pandemic, new strains of coronaviruses can emerge at any time. Let’s not forget how relatively simple measures including using quality healthcare furniture can assist in preventing the spread of these viruses.

We are here to help. Turn to the professionals for assistance. At POI, we have a range of healthcare furniture brands, including Steelcase, Krug, Globalcare, Kwalu and many others to meet your needs. Contact POI today.  In the meantime, listen to the experts and follow their advice. We will get through this together.