Turning residential care inside out

As with most aspects of care, interiors have advanced immeasurably since the Furncare brand was first established 20 years ago. Here, Furncare director Randal Southall turns the residential care market ‘inside out’ by looking at the role of the outdoors in modern care environments

Thanks to cutting edge design, the use of new materials, and the ever-changing regulatory landscape, the user experience has never been better for residents. Having innovated, invested, and upgraded inside, it is worth looking outside, too. After all, since childhood we have all been told that fresh air and the great outdoors are good for us.

The physical, social, and emotional benefits of spending time outdoors apply to all of us; young, old, residents, carers, and families. Thinking about the life journey of a typical resident (pre-internet and Netflix), more time was spent outdoors than nowadays. Many will have spent their happiest and healthiest years tending their own gardens, growing vegetables, weeding, and mowing the lawn. Ironically, once all those jobs were done, there was invariably precious little leisure time left to appreciate the fruits of their labours. For residents in a care community, those obligations no longer apply and every day is a weekend. Now, therefore, is their time.

Care home grounds cannot replicate the domestic garden setting of a resident's younger, independent days. They can, however, provide relaxing, peaceful, safe, and stimulating environments to read, relax, or socialise in. Research from specialist garden designers Step Change reveals that all it takes is some outdoor seating or benches for residents to spend 20 per cent more time outside.

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