Utilising Age-Inclusive Clinic Design To Provide An Amazing Patient Experience

Utilising Age-Inclusive Clinic Design To Provide An Amazing Patient Experience
May 17, 2021 Dentifit

An age-inclusive clinic design helps ensure all people can safely and comfortably access your services. By implementing inclusive interior and exterior designs, you seize opportunities for increased client growth and ensure your patients all receive just and equal treatment. 

This blog includes features to include into your clinic fitout that are appropriate for an older demographic and people with disabilities. With many trends steering in the direction of high tech, we will highlight the importance of still having an old school human touch, as well as other features that may be important as people begin to age and need more assistance with vision, hearing and other accessibilities. 

alt="doctor talking to a happy older woman in the waiting room"

See Your Clinic Through Different Eyes

When you’re decorating or furnishing your clinic, it’s easy to assume your patients will like what you like. Take a step in your primary audience’s shoes and consider what features are valuable to them. The modern lighting feature or contemporary seating you want may not meet the requirement of your patients. 

If your main patient pool is retirees or seniors, they will have different tastes and styles. It may be in your best interest to decorate in a way that pleases your key demographic. 

Keep Some Form Of Human Contact

Automation has the medical world caught in a whirlwind. Before you ditch your administration desk for an iPad, consider your demographic. If a large chunk of your clientele are seniors who may not be comfortable with new technology, you run the risk of turning them away. Human touch is always necessary to handle issues that a machine cannot solve. It also establishes a human connection between your staff and patients. Staff offer an unreplaceable service by ensuring all patients are looked after and safe

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Peaceful, Controlled Settings 

Loud, chaotic and cluttered offices aren’t fun for anyone, but they can be more disorientating for elderly patients. Soothing colours and warm natural light sources are more appealing to all audiences. If you have background music or a television in the waiting area, make sure the noise isn’t overpowering. 

Comfortable & Practical Seating

Age-inclusive seating should be one of your priorities when ensuring patient comfort. Opt for mid-height seating where the seat ends near your knee. Seating that is too high or low could be difficult for people with movement impairments to use. 

Sharp edges and corners should be avoided, and chairs should be sturdy, have arms, and properly balanced to avoid toppling over or sliding backwards when getting on and off.  Also, make sure they are comfortable enough for people to use for long durations of time. 

alt="door levers are a more accessible and easy to use than door knobs"

Replacing Door Knobs

Twisting a doorknob is a simple daily process, but it may be painful for people with joint pain or arthritis. A handy replacement is automated doors, or a door lever, compliant with AS1428.1  which requires less wrist movement to operate. 

Accessible Amenities 

We’re at our most vulnerable in the bathroom, so ensure you have grab rails and other safety measures to ensure patients can use the amenities throughout your practice without running the risk of injury. 

alt="Carpet is a fall-safe flooring option"

Safe Flooring 

Your clinic is a high-traffic zone, so slips or trips may occur. Make sure you choose flooring that can absorb impact and is unlikely to cause falls. Elders with an unsteady gait are prone to fall-related injuries, so install features that limit potential risks. Dentifit can advise the required slip rating for specific use areas to comply with Australian Standard AS 4586-  2013.

Some safe flooring options are: 

  • Carpet (soft with good shock absorption for falls)
  • Anti-slip flooring (prevents falls, however, is still hard if a fall occurs)
  • Vinyl floors (more shock absorption than tiles or wood flooring and a layer of cork can be added below to cushion the floor)
  • Rough texture tiles or granite tiles (rough texture improves grip, which can be useful in bathrooms that may get wet, but could cause scrapes or damage skin if a fall occurs) 

Wheelchair Access 

Every facility open to the public must have accessibility measures for those with a disability. Equip your clinic with the proper wheelchair and disability access by installing clear, wide passageways in all rooms and adequate ramp access to all elevated areas. 

A wheelchair’s turning radius is about 1.5m, so to allow easy maneuvering, your rooms should include a clear space that can accommodate this movement requirement. Dentifit Australia will advise on responsibility for design for Persons with Disability.

Staircase Navigation 

If your clinic includes a flight of stairs, you may need to consider installing some transport methods for those with mobility difficulties. An elevator or chair lift can assist those unable to climb stairs by themselves. Staff should also ask to help people who may be capable of climbing stairs but do so with difficulty. For small steps, gradual ramps should be used to help those in wheelchairs or with movement complications. 

Lighting 

As we grow older, our eyesight deteriorates. Poor lighting can put a strain on the eyes or make it more difficult to read documents. Cool white light is preferred in medical clinics to assist eyesight. Dim or harsh lighting can lead to difficulties seeing inside your clinic. Angle your light sources away from eye-line areas or use light shades to reduce glare in your clinic. 

Bring Age-Inclusive Design To Your Clinic 

Incorporating age-inclusive designs will help ensure all your patients have a pleasant experience in your clinic. If you want to improve your clinic’s age-inclusiveness, the team at Dentifit can refresh your business and utilise industry trends to make your practice stand out. Contact us today or check out our previous work and we can take your clinic to new heights.