Furniture specified for healthcare projects has unique requirements that go beyond comfort and aesthetics. Given that healthcare environments cater to people with different needs, the furniture should not only be comfortable but also must factor in elements such as ergonomics, safety, durability and hygiene.

The seating needs to ensure comfort for a wide range of users as people come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. The seat of the chair should ideally be at a height of 45 centimetres (similar to a dining chair), allowing people to easily sit down or get up. Armrests are also recommended to support the person’s movement. Sancal’s Hera is a robust and contemporary armchair, designed with the right seat and arm height as well as an upright backrest to provide ergonomic comfort for patients and carers in waiting rooms and patient rooms.

Proyec’s Boomerang is designed specifically for the elderly residents of care homes. Modern and timeless by design, these chairs promote ease of movement when sitting down and support when getting up. Features such as a reclining back with good support to facilitate correct posture and space between the seat and armrests to allow for side access give due consideration to the unique needs of the user. A transfer chair is also available in the Proyec range for people on the move.

The Proyec Boomerang chair was specified for Coastal Neurosurgery, NSW by Ricci Bloch Architecture + Interiors during the facility’s redesign. Ricci selected this chair for the waiting area and rooms due to its natural materials, variety of warm colours, and ability to capture the comfort of a home environment, helping create a more relaxed vibe for the patient in the clinic.

Ke-Zu’s offering also includes wider and sturdier chairs for bariatric patients. Source’s Cache collection is tested and certified by the Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute (AFRDI) to withstand a static load of 330 kilograms, with the widest version (660 millimetres) able to endure a static load up to 407 kilograms. Featuring an upholstered seat and back, these bariatric chairs are available with or without arms.

Furniture specified for aged care environments need to have a streamlined design to reduce trip hazards. This means the furniture should not have sharp corners and edges, and the legs and bases should not protrude. Andreu World’s Reverse tables feature a low trip design, preventing falls and accidents. Aged care facilities should also have lightweight chairs that can be easily picked up while glides on the bottom of chair frames can make them easier to slide on carpet.

A streamlined design also works for upholstered furniture as it reduces the nooks and crannies that can collect and trap dust, dirt and crumbs. Open back chairs with a gap between the seat and backrest are easy to wipe down and keep clean. Solid surfaces such as wood, aluminium and plastic are also easier to clean and will show less wear and tear than upholstery.

The hygiene requirements in a healthcare environment can be met through the use of specific materials and finishes on furniture. The use of the anti-bacterial properties of silver in powder-coats and vinyl is one example. Manufacturers are also utilising materials that comply with Green Star or GECA certification to ensure products don’t have harmful contaminants.

ENEA’s Lottus collection has been certified for its low VOC emission rate. Additionally, this furniture range prevents transmission of healthcare-associated infections spread through contact, contributing to a more hygienic environment. This is achieved through the addition of the chemical agent Vibatan PP/M Bacteriostatic 02518 to the polypropylene shell, which inhibits the reproduction of bacteria.

Residential design is increasingly influencing healthcare environments, especially in the use of a more vibrant colour palette for the upholstery. Vivid colours can be used to provide visual relief and introduce an element of relaxed informality. Additionally, fabric colours that visually stand out from the rest of the environment can be a smart choice in aged care environments to avoid trip hazards. For upholstered chairs, a Martindale count of 100000 plus rubs will extend fabric longevity.

Consult with the Ke-Zu team for assistance in specifying the right furniture for healthcare settings.