As the design of healthcare environments transitions away from stereotypical clinical aesthetics to warmer, more inviting, and comfortable interiors, Chris Rand looks at the factors to consider when it comes to flooring.

IN healthcare facilities, whilst floors form only one part of the interior design, they play a huge role in contributing to improved air quality, reducing the impact of sound, adding to the ambiance and helping to create healthier and more comfortable environments.

So, how can contractors ensure that they are choosing the most suitable solutions to support the overall patient experience?

Indoor air quality
Factors that contribute to the creation of a comfortable internal environment involve lighting, humidity, cleanliness, temperature and the presence of chemicals and other contaminants, including indoor allergens.

According to Public Health England, it has been estimated that air pollution is responsible for between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year, costing the healthcare sector £20bn annually1. With this in mind, ensuring good indoor air quality (IAQ) is crucial, as the patients, staff and visitors of the facilities will all be directly impacted.

Indeed, there are floorcoverings available on the market that are phthalate free and are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), in order to improve the IAQ of buildings.

Durability and cleanability
Hospitals experience heavy traffic. The flooring should be capable of withstanding all types of traffic and demands that hospital floors are typically subject to, such as heavy equipment including trollies, patient mobility aids and constant footfall.

As floors take a regular pounding, their vital the chosen floorcoverings are easy to clean. A highly durable top finish is also recommended, as this will provide resistance to chemicals, scratches, and stains, ensuring the floors maintain its appearance and performance properties for years to come and in turn, save on costs.

Lighting
Light affects almost all vital processes in the human body and consequently a floorcovering that has a high Light Reflectance Value (LRV) rating should be considered.

A high LRV rated floorcovering will allow optimum light to reflect off the floor and brighten the space efficiently. Creating a connection between the outdoor and indoor environment can also help leave visitors with the feeling these buildings are highly accessible and welcoming.

Colour and design
The colour white, depicting clean and sterile, is long associated with healthcare. However, as healthcare design evolves and becomes more sophisticated, the clever use of colour palettes is growing in importance, not only for the psychological impact on a patient, but it’s also key for navigation and wayfinding around the building.

For those that are visually impaired, colour contrast can play a big part as cognitive and perception problems can lead to falls and increased anxiety.

A new generation of vinyl flooring
Ideal for healthcare environments, Forbo Flooring Systems has launched the second generation of its premium homogeneous vinyl sheet collection, Sphera Energetic. The dynamic new range now consists of four design families – Uni, Vivid, Shimmer and Confetti – with each one offering an array of beautifully balanced designs to help create fresh, contemporary interiors, whilst still retaining its exceptional durability properties.

The chips throughout each design add a new dimension to homogeneous vinyl, while also helping to effectively hide dirt in areas where heavy footfall is expected. What’s more, the colour palette of the entire range offers high Light Reflectance Value (LRV) ratings, which will maximise light within a building.

Although the designs have been refreshed, Sphera Energetic still retains its impeccable durability characteristics. Thanks to its SMART-top surface protection, it combines excellent stain and scratch resistant properties, with superior appearance retention to ensure the floor looks and performs well for healthcare end users of today and the future.

To create a healthcare design that can promote a positive image of care and inspire recovery, it’s recommended you liaise with a flooring manufacturer such as Forbo to fully appreciate the flooring options available.

For more information about Forbo’s new Sphera Energetic collection, visit www.forbo-flooring.co.uk/spheraenergetic or to find out about Forbo’s work in the healthcare sector, visit www.forbo-flooring.co.uk/healthcare 
www.forbo-flooring.co.uk

Chris Rand is segment marketing manager for healthcare at Forbo Flooring Systems