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Shining a light on care

Rod Seddon knows how effective lighting can be to relax people and help their day-to-day activities.

The national retail manager for lighting and furniture retailer Enlightened Living says installing light fittings has a critical influence on residents in aged care.

“It’s very important for folks of that age bracket,” he says. “They’ve worked hard all their lives and now they’ve come to a place where we want to take some of the strain away. If we can make it feel just a little bit better, that’s all we’re trying to do.

“The colour of light is a really key element and it is often forgotten, in how we can help people through certain paths.”

In 2018 Enlightened Living worked with developer CPSM and interior designers Studio Collective to choose and install the light fittings for the new wing of the CPSM Care home in Brisbane’s Holland Park.

The expansion of 48-ensuited rooms, communal spaces and a central courtyard meant varying lighting requirements to facilitate different living and wayfinding experiences.

Mr Seddon says selecting the lights was a process of determining the use of the space and matching the right illumination.

“How do we keep people relaxed and happy and do whatever it is they want to do?” he says.

“There has got to be thought and consideration into how the lights are used. You don’t want an older person sitting under a spotlight, for example. But they can still have the ability to turn everything up when they need to, if there is an emergency.”

Studio Collective interior designer Kate Gillard says the project involved lighting thoroughfares in ways that were visually easy to follow, while also adding illumination elements in spaces to make them relatable and homey.

“There are a range of visual impacts,” Miss Gillard says. “[Residents] need to be able to see where they’re going. They can’t have anything too bright as well.

“Wayfinding is really important. It is always well-lit so they know where they’re going.”

Dementia Australia’s dementia-friendly design principles recommend lighting of at least 300 lux to optimise helpful stimulation and lighting that helps movement and engagement.

Design should also make the most of natural light but also allow for flexible use.

When Enlightened Living perused the specs for the design, they were able to make suggestions for the specific products that would deliver these outcomes using high-quality products and still come in under budget.

Mr Seddon says they suggested the Astro range from the United Kingdom, which had high-spec features and complied with Australian standards.

“It’s a very well-made product and they spend a lot of time on the finishing details – parts you don’t necessarily see – like back-end plates that mean they’re not going to fall off the wall,” he says.

“You can’t have that in aged care.”

He says the products chosen specifically for the project were easy to maintain and wipe down, as well as using quality dimmable globes with a warm light tone.

“Changing the fixtures gave them the ability to control the light,” he says. “If you need to have all the lights on for any reason you can have it on, but if you need to tone it down then you can.

“We’ve stayed away from fairly harsh light. The colder the light gets, the more clinical it can become.”

The end result was 126 Roma lights and 288 Bari lights within resident rooms and communal areas, as well as waterproof fixtures on the verandas and entry lights for the building.

Mr Seddon says aged care is a special industry and Enlightened Living liked to focus on the sector, having worked with CPSU, Tricare, Churches of Christ and Aveo among others.

“It just leaves you with a good feeling,” he says.

“When I first started with CPSM, I had just gone through the same experience with myself, selecting a home for my mother.

“These lovely people, this could be their last home. Let’s make it as lovely and pretty and peaceful as we can.”

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