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Style Awards Interview: Southlands Care Home

With Richard Wellock, Facilities Manager
southlands care home

Located in a leafy suburb of Leeds, Southlands is a 28-bed nursing and residential care facility as well as having 28 luxury apartments, purpose-built for older people to continue their independent living with the added reassurance of round-the-clock care. Set in a grand Victorian house, the independent apartments have been added at the back and features a hair salon, thermal suite and landscaped gardens.

Officially opened in 2015, Southlands care home encourages independence through and through. Very much like a housing complex, the apartments are all self-contained with a small kitchenette and bathroom, as well as bedroom and lounge area.

Tell us about Southlands and the type of care you provide.

Southlands delivers both a unique care home and independent living with care and support services. The independent living service offers clients the opportunity to purchase their own home whilst still providing significant levels of care and support including nursing care. The outcome of this is a sense of independence for our clients. Our care home provides residential and nursing care to the enhanced level awarded by Leeds City Council. Southlands has also been awarded a Gold Standards Framework for End of Life Care.

My role at Westward Care is that of Facilities Manager, offering interior design consultancy. This also encompasses building/maintenance issues and internal development/refurbishment works with regards to planning, interior design and the project management/implementation of the same.

Why do you think it’s important for care homes, now more than ever, to be both stylish and practical?

More people than ever now have access to the internet and home design is one of the great development areas with more and more people spending a great proportion of their income on the furnishing and interior design of their homes.

People’s expectations are much higher than previous generations and everyone wants a stylish living environment immediately rather than save towards larger purchases for the home. The more mature person moving into a residential care environment, therefore, is often leaving their home of some years and it is important that we provide living spaces that often provide them with a more luxurious environment than those they are leaving.

The environments we strive to offer, take into consideration many of the ailments older people experience and the interiors are therefore planned not only with the aesthetic aspects in mind but the general mobility and ease of access for the resident.

southlands westward care

We try and ensure all care rooms offer light, airy accommodation and, where possible, beautifully landscaped areas to provide as good an outlook as the site is able to offer, linking them to the outside world.

As a designer, I often meet with members of the care team to discuss any proposed development works and ensure that we are providing the most up-to-date care facilities for all. In many cases, rooms are refurbished prior to a new resident moving in and their needs are taken into account when preparing the rooms even down to the choice of colours etc. as long as it is in line with our overall design approach to rooms.

Tell us about some of the interior design choices within Southlands care home and any practical requirements you took into consideration?

The communal areas to the home have been designed to create a luxurious and stylish interior reminiscent of that found in boutique hotels and country houses with a contemporary approach to colour.

Naturally, design is very subjective and we, therefore, strive to provide interiors that appeal to most tastes. Nothing too gaudy or over the top – just warm, inviting and, most of all, restful.

Interiors are also approached with longevity in mind so that the interiors do not date too quickly.

What challenges did you face when trying to balance interior design with practicality and duty of care?

The main challenge faced often is the size of the rooms and general shape as we often have to incorporate various items of furniture and the residents own items whilst maintaining wheelchair and hoist access to most parts of the room.

In addition items such as carpets, general flooring etc. have to be selected that are compatible with a care environment and are suitable for staff when manoeuvring wheelchairs, trolleys, hoists etc.

Our duty of care in this respect extends to both residents and staff to ensure that care can be delivered with the utmost respect and dignity to the client, whilst providing a safe environment for all.

All furnishings should be comfortable and supportive whilst remaining easy to clean. Furniture can still be stylish, incorporating curved edges rather than sharp corners, and handles should be simple to enable the resident the ease to open doors/drawers.

southlands apartments

Do you think interior design and style choices within a care home can enhance a resident’s quality of life?

In answer to your question, most definitely – a resident’s whole quality of life and general demeanour is greatly enhanced by a well thought out and stylish environment.

The residents feel that people care about them and have made a great effort in providing them with a ‘home from home’ which, supported by good residential or nursing care, makes life a lot more enjoyable, and as I have seen, often results in a general improvement in health and a much more positive outlook on life.

Caring for a resident is clearly the top priority in a healthcare establishment – what steps do you take to ensure that someone is happy and comfortable with their surroundings?

When undertaking design and planning works we try and involve not only the staff but also the residents themselves and try and ascertain their likes and dislikes.

It is important that the residents feel they are included in decisions and have some ‘ownership’ of their environment.

southlands residential home

What, if any, do you think will be the key trends in care home design over the next 12 months?

I think the trends in care home design will vary greatly as various care companies have totally different approaches to care home design and varying budgets.

I think it is important not to lose sight of your client base as I have seen many very well designed schemes which are innovative in their use of colour and form but are totally impractical with regards to various areas. An example of this can be seen by the furniture often incorporated into schemes that does not provide the residents with enough support when trying to get up from chairs, or not enough back/head rest for residents to take a nap in comfort in the chairs etc.

It is also important that there are ‘quiet’ areas in schemes thus providing clients with choices for quiet, gentle pastimes or the chance to catch up with friends and family, whilst also ensuring that we create more socially interactive areas for those clients who wish to enjoy and partake in a more active lifestyle.

For our part, we will strive to provide good quality, light, airy and modern environments with a hint of traditionality as we must not lose sight of the age groups we are catering for as many of our residents were born in the 1930’s onwards and have mixed tastes to say the least!

To find out more about healthcare design, keep your eyes peeled for the 2017 Hilden Style Guide…available soon.

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