Note that the best flooring for a nursing home is one that takes into account the specific needs of its residents. Though the abilities of the people living in nursing homes are varied, the flooring requirements are the same. No matter how able-bodied residents are, safety and accessibility are the top concerns.
Safety is expected to encompass accommodations for visual impairment, slip hazards, transition hazards (between materials), and flammability.
Durability, ease of maintenance, and sustainability are significant considerations as well. When it comes to choosing among flooring recommendations for the elderly, mistakes made in material selection or flooring installation can be dangerous – even deadly.
According to reports, fall in older adults is a public health concern. The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) points out that in the US, every second an elderly suffers a fall, making it the leading cause of serious injuries and fatalities in this cohort. Falls in older adults also lead to immobility and premature nursing home placement.
Also have it in mind that falling once doubles a senior’s chances of falling again, especially in elders with conditions, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, gait issues, or limited physical capacities. Not to forget, the enormous healthcare costs that come with a fall.
Even though falls are common among older adults, they surely aren’t a normal part of aging. Whether you are a senior wanting to age in place, have an aging loved one around, or own a nursing home facility, you can do a lot to reduce the risk of falls. Begin by tackling the top modifiable risk factors for falls in seniors – poor choice of flooring.
The first step to understanding what flooring is suitable for each space is to interview the staff and stakeholders to get a better idea of how each space will be used.
Start by asking for more information on past incidents, falls, or injuries (if available), and once you have a thorough understanding of the room use and the safety hazards, you can research which products will meet the safety needs of the residents.
As note that as seniors age, their eyes begin to yellow, therefore, it is advisable to look at colour through yellow glasses to get a better understanding of how an aging person would see it. It is also recommend that the colour of the floor be in contrast to the walls or doors so that it’s easy to distinguish.
It’s also necessary to take glare into consideration since it can often look like the floor is wet or dangerous to a resident. Selecting matte finish flooring is often preferred. With massive influence from the hospitality industry, flooring options for nursing homes have dramatically changed. Many flooring products are being installed to accommodate for various spaces.
The problem of evaluating these flooring options is selecting a material with a homey feel that is functional, safe, and durable since carts and wheelchairs can damage floor coverings over time. Nonetheless, here are the top five options and their pros and cons;
Best Flooring for Nursing Home
Carpeting still remains a dominant material in flooring for nursing homes. Healthcare carpet installers note that a broadloom carpet is a cost-effective option for offices and areas where replacement and heavy traffic is not such a big concern.
Carpet tile has made its entry in non-critical care spaces. It is fast becoming a favorite for its ease of installation and replacement, as well as the variety of patterns and colors.
- Carpet is a very cushiony material that is comfortable underfoot and provides some protection against injury from falls.
- Carpet is relatively neutral when it comes to temperature: it doesn’t retain heat or cold like many hard flooring materials.
- Carpet absorbs sound and is virtually silent to walk on.
- The fibers of carpeting tend to collect dirt and dust that floats through the air and it is difficult to remove all dirt with a vacuum. This can be problematic for people with severe allergies or respiratory sensitivities.
- Carpeting doesn’t do well in wet areas, like bathrooms, or in wet and dirty areas, such as kitchens. It stains very easily and is difficult to deep-clean, which usually requires a professional carpet cleaner.
- Wheelchairs don’t roll as well over the carpet as over hard flooring. Long-pile carpet, in particular, can present a trip hazard. Because of this, carpet for senior citizens should have a pile no more than ½ inch thick, and the underlying padding should be firm and not too thick.
Installers also advise cork flooring. Just like carpet, cork is shock absorbent and comfortable to stand on for long periods of time. Cork flooring has a 40-year life span when it is maintained properly. In addition, cork is all-natural, biodegradable, and renewable.
- Cork is a medium choice in the hard-soft continuum. It has a smooth, washable surface but still offers some cushion underfoot.
- Cork is hard enough for efficient wheelchair travel, and it won’t catch feet as carpeting can.
- As long as a cork floor is properly maintained, it is relatively easy to clean and care for.
- Since cork is so soft, it can be damaged relatively easily by punctures from furniture legs, pointy heels, or any sharp object poking or scraping its surface. It is only moderately resistant to water: Spills should be wiped up immediately, as standing water can get into the seams of the flooring tiles or planks and damage the material’s core.
Available in both tiles and rolled goods, linoleum can be water-jet cut to make intricate patterns. It is naturally antibacterial and antistatic, as well as durable, flexible, and sound absorptive. Padded linoleum behaves very similarly to padded vinyl, but it is not quite as stain-resistant. Howbeit, linoleum is still easy to clean, maintain, and disinfect.
- Linoleum is easy to clean and maintain. It doesn’t hold onto dust, pollen, and other air contaminants as does carpeting.
- Linoleum is water- and stain-resistant enough to work well in kitchens and bathrooms, but standing water can get into the seams of linoleum tiles and planks. Sheet linoleum is more water-resistant.
- Linoleum has a flat, smooth surface and is installed directly over subflooring or wood underlayment, so it is good for wheelchairs and walkers.
- Linoleum can be quite an expensive flooring material, starting at around $3 to $4 per square foot for the material itself, not including installation.
- While not as hard or cold as tile, linoleum offers very little cushion and can be relatively cold underfoot.
Vinyl flooring is waterproof and easy to maintain. Also, vinyl planks are smooth, making it easy for seniors to move around either by foot or with a wheelchair or walker. However, since vinyl flooring isn’t as soft as rubber or cork, the landing won’t be soft in case of a fall. To add some cushioning, you may have to invest money and effort to add extra cushioning using a cork underlayment.
- Vinyl offers the same hard-wearing and low-maintenance benefits of linoleum.
- Vinyl is a highly water-resistant material, and high-quality luxury vinyl is virtually waterproof. However, the seams in vinyl tile and planks can let water through to the subfloor, so standing water can be a problem. In bathrooms and kitchens, sheet vinyl is ideal because it has few (or sometimes no) seams.
- Vinyl covers a wide price range but is generally one of the most affordable flooring options, and it lends itself to DIY installation.
- Vinyl is relatively hard and smooth, making for easy travel, but it’s not as hard or as cold as tile.
- Vinyl is plastic and it looks and feels like plastic. That’s maybe why it’s mainly used in kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, laundry areas, and entryways, but not in living rooms and other areas where comfort and appearance are necessary. However, the latest forms of luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) are considerably more attractive than standard vinyl, and it can be manufactured to convincingly mimic wood grains or stone.
Natural rubber tiles or rolled rubber flooring is another option for nursing homes. Rubber is a rapidly renewable resource, making it very durable and a good shock and sound absorber. Available in many colors, rubber has a natural finish that gets better over time. It is naturally antibacterial and requires very low maintenance.
- Rubber flooring is traditionally used in gyms and exercise rooms where it’s important to have a surface that’s safe for vigorous physical activity. It is both shock- and slip-resistant.
- Rubber flooring is very resistant to damage from furniture, equipment, or water. However, the seams are vulnerable to letting water through to the subfloor. It can be laid over concrete, adding comfort and safety to outdoor areas and basements.
- Rubber flooring can be expensive. Basic snap-together tiles can be relatively affordable, and they are very easy to install yourself, saving the cost of professional installation.
- Rubber is anything but cozy. It also comes in very limited styles, colors, and textures.
Owing to its high performance, resilience, cushioning properties, and longevity, rubber remains the best choice for nursing homes. Poured-in-place rubber safety flooring is ideal for homes with seniors and elderly facilities. Rubber flooring is smooth, skid-resistant, easy to maintain, and waterproof.
Since it is softer than the hard-surface flooring materials like ceramic or vinyl tiles or wood, it offers effective shock absorption, should there be an accident. The safety and convenience of seniors should be a priority when it comes to choosing ideal flooring.