The level of difficulty of buying senior living furniture for your community is usually underestimated in both time and cost due to all the considerations and options that come with it. Balancing the decision between comfort and attractive design can be a challenge as well, as many options don’t combine these variables. This decision also comes down to product cost, as a single dining room chair isn’t a budget breaker, but building a budget for a hundred chairs at a time can require long term planning. So, when it comes to furniture, how do you choose?
The first consideration is your residents’ health, safety, and comfort. The task of sitting down and/or getting up from soft cushioned furniture is a problem for many seniors who struggle with arthritis, mobility or weight issues. There are many products that offer solutions, but vary drastically in price.
When building a budget for furniture, you need to fine tune and ‘own’ your philosophy. Some communities commit a very generous budget, intending for their purchase of more commercial style furniture to last for many years, and in some cases decades. Other communities reduce the budget to allow for residential style and quality furniture, knowing ahead of time that they are going to have to revisit the purchase in 3 or 4 years, as the wear and tear of a senior living community will result in the need to turn their furniture much more frequently. In highly competitive markets, turning furniture more often can allow for more frequent updates to the design to a newer look, but the time it takes to make these selections can be onerous.
A hierarchy of space must also be outlined when determining types and styles of furniture but in indoor and outdoor areas. For instance, comfortable seating with back support and armrests placed near building entrances, communal areas, and other spaces where residents spend a lot of time can encourage socialization. It is important when evaluating furniture options to take the time to design each space to make sure that your furniture investment is allowing for enough seating options for each resident. Further walk paths and egress issues must be considered.
In your outdoor spaces, table-and-chair groupings for picnicking, games, or other group activities would be useful. In addition, more intimate seating areas with furnishings that allow residents and visitors to sit side-by-side and/or face each other and visiting family members, should be considered in places with outdoor vistas and gardens.
A community with common space limitations can be dramatically impacted by the proper outdoor furniture group. Bringing residents outdoors can not only alleviate occupancy strain on interior living spaces, but intentionally managing these spaces can be a positive addition to your activities programs. A healthy outdoor space can result in a healthier resident.
The Senior GuidePost team has found that the furniture selection is improved with a certain level of resident involvement. A furniture update can be a serious investment, and getting the residents’ input can improve the likelihood that the new design is loved by all. We have found that requesting samples of 3 or 4 different dining room chairs, and having a resident vote is a great way of doing this. The residents can vote not only on comfort and functionality, but design and styling as well.
Depending upon the scale of the furniture program, engaging an interior designer on the project can be a worthwhile expense. A designer can make sure that your project stays within budget, that all pieces are scaled for the space, and can work to actually order and deliver all of the pieces selected.
Good luck with selecting furniture for your facility. Stay tuned for more information regarding all things senior housing!