Why Seating Matters. A Three Part Series! | Part One
As there has been a move away from environments which are institutional in appearance, we also have experienced a shift away from the plethora of high backed vinyl chairs lined up against the walls. More is now known and understood about the importance of seating and the different types of seating required in aged care environments. This segment will provide an overview of seating and we will focus specifically on dining chairs and lounge chairs in the next two editions of the newsletter.
The first step in chair selection is to know the intended occupants. Are they primarily mobile or are they wheelchair bound? Perhaps a mix of both? With the mobile group, close attention needs to be made to the chair specifications to ensure there are a range of sizes, widths and heights to accommodate individual needs. One size definitely does not suit all! If there are many wheelchair users, care needs to be taken to not fill a room with furniture which will then restrict wheelchair access.
The next step is to be clear on the intended function of the room. The type and location of the chairs (and other furniture items) need to send a clear message as to what the purpose of the room is. Mixing dining chairs with a lounge chair and then bringing in an outdoor chair is a perplexing configuration!
Next we consider the technical specifications of the chair with attention to the seat width, depth, height from floor, the height of the backrest, armrest height and the seat rake (describes the angle of the seat). These are followed by construction and design considerations such as material used (and thus weight of the chair for ease of movement and stability), durability, shape and contouring of seat and back surface, type and density of foam, removability of components (such as cushions) and appearance (does the chair appear comfortable and thus ‘invite’ people to come and sit?).
The fifth consideration is the fabric selection with attention to type, pattern/colour, texture and cleaning requirements.
Seating is an incredibly important and yet often underestimated aspect of living environments for older people. Don’t hesitate to access people with expertise in this area to ensure your chair purchases are going to be fit for purpose, are enabling for the people using them, easy to look after and importantly draw people towards them so they can relax, eat or participate in life activities as much as possible.
View Part Two, mealtimes a wonderful sensory experience here