Designing objects related to protection and restoration of health is a demanding task, governed by special laws. On the one hand, the existing legislative standards and established technical rules must be obeyed, and on the other hand, the functional issues, physical and emotional comfort of patients and clients of medical facilities as well as appropriate working conditions of the staff should be taken into account. Aesthetics have a significant impact on the well-being of people using clinics, diagnostic rooms or hospitals – both public and private medical care. In this article, we will focus on proven floor coverings which are ideal for use in healthcare.
Legal requirements. Hygiene above all.
In the current “Regulation of Minister of Health on requirements for rooms and equipment in a subject running a medical business of 26 June 2012”, Art 29, section 4 on general building requirements says that floors should be made of materials enabling their washing and disinfection, and the method of connecting walls with floors must enable their effective cleaning and disinfection. [Dz. U. 2012, item 739 (translator’s note: Dz. U – Journal of Laws)].
These needs are fulfilled, for instance, by special fittings from the Gamma / Gammo collection by Paradyż, facilitating the effective removal of bacterial contamination and flora.
A set of matt Gamma fittings in grey. Such fittings, in a shiny and matt version, are also available in 20 other colours.
All equipment elements used in healthcare facilities must comply with effective standards and have the required certificates.
In business, technical, social, and administrative rooms, counselling and psychiatric clinics and addiction treatment, as well as in kinesiotherapy rooms – these requirements do not have to be met.
Hygiene is the most important factor in the selection of the right floor covering.
The floor must be resistant to chemical disinfectants and to staining with organic and chemical substances.
The previously mentioned ceramic tiles from the Gamma collection by Paradyż are certified for resistance to staining and chemical resistance.
Obviously, the cladding has to be also resistant to mechanical damage, non-slip and with a high class of resistance to abrasion and dimensional stability. It is also important that there should be as few joints on the surface as possible, and that they are tight (the joint must also meet the requirements of resistance to washing and cleaning agents).
Quiet floating floorings
In health care facilities there are requirements for acoustics, the so-called “floating floorings” on insulated ceilings are used there. Already at the design or modernization stage of the building, it is necessary to provide adequate isolation from impact sounds thanks to the use of acoustic layers and proper insulation of the floor from the walls. Installation of floors and skirting boards on the walls must be made in such a way so as not to create acoustic bridges. The prepared substrate can be finished with a selected cladding which meets hygienic and sanitary, and functional requirements – for example, ceramic tiles.
The type of floor depends on the room
The nature of the room, the way it is used, the degree of pedestrian traffic, and heavy loads on wheels, the degree of exposure to destructive mechanical factors, the presence of chemical and organic staining substances, the weight of aesthetic factors – all these issues are of great importance when choosing the type of floor.
In all entrance areas to medical care buildings, passageways, lobbies, waiting rooms, within registration, in doctors’ offices, treatment rooms, laboratory laboratories, changing rooms, social rooms, toilets, technical rooms – the following must be taken into consideration first of all:
- easiness to keep clean,
- resistance to staining with organic and chemical substances,
- chemical resistance to disinfectants,
- non-susceptibility to the development of mould, fungi and microorganisms,
- slip resistance,
- resistance to abrasion,
- bending strength,
- resistance to mechanical damage.
Durable, resistant ceramics
Because ceramic tiles meet the requirements listed above, ceramic floor coverings are among the most commonly used in public facilities which provide medical services. When selecting specific tiles, it is necessary to check whether they meet specific legal and functional requirements for use in a given place and whether they have all the required approvals.
Due to the limitation of the surface of the joints, large-format tiles with rectified edges, which enable installation with a thin joint, work best.
The comfort of hospital treatment
In addition to hygiene, acoustic issues are of great importance in medical facilities, especially in hospital bed wards. Reducing unnecessary sounds to a minimum reduces stress, promotes the processes of patients recovering and the concentration of medical personnel.
The continuity of the floor covering suppresses the sound of transfused hospital beds, wheelchairs, medical equipment, machines and trolleys for cleaning floors or meal trolleys. Thanks to the “floating floorings”, eliminating impact sounds, the noise is reduced using any type of floor covering.
For acoustic reasons, heterogeneous PVC lining with the required user parameters is often used in hospital wards, including abrasion class, usability class, thickness of wear layer and warranty period. These linings are rolled onto the wall to a height of 15 cm.
In addition to ceramics and PVC linings, in health care facilities there are also used: rubber, linoleum and special floors (for example anti-electrostatic, electrically conductive, or floors with a lead coating for the X-ray laboratory).
Aesthetics in the service of the healing process
The appearance of healthcare facilities is of great importance for clients and patients of medical facilities. The interior design of each of them should inspire confidence, give a sense of security (both physical and mental), acceptance, guarantee cleanliness, provide comfort and friendly neutrality for the eyesight.
The ideal would be to equip every hospital with comfortable and pleasant places to meet with family and common rooms full of board games, equipped with a place to watch TV and other social activities.
The colours and design of the floors must be consistent with the rest of the design – the way the walls are finished, the style, and colours of the equipment. For example, mandatory protective gowns made of ceramic tiles at washbasins are made of ceramic tiles which visually harmoniously blend with the floor. The most frequently used colours for arranging rooms in the health care are neutral greys, blues, beiges, and broken whites.
Of course, children’s outlets – except for cleanliness – should be as least bleak as possible to eliminate stress related to illness and bring joy to the space of healing joy. That is why in children’s branches we can meet cheerful patterns both on the walls and on the floors.
Watch out for reflections and patterns
Aesthetics cannot overshadow functionality and security. For this reason, shiny floors are avoided in clinics and hospitals, which cause adverse glare (especially undesirable for older patients and with mental dysfunctions). Due to the orientation of patients in space, the floor should also be clearly separated from the walls.
Expressive floor patterns are just as bad ideas as polished surfaces. Poorly sighted, older people (especially those with dementia) interpret patterns as obstacles, which limits their ability to function efficiently in space.
Around the hospital and medical facility
The area around each medical facility should be treated with the same care as its interior. The safety and usable durability will also play a major role here. Slip resistance, frost resistance, resistance to abrasion and mechanical damage – these are the main factors which must be taken into account.
For external applications around hospitals, we especially recommend thick terrace tiles (20 mm thickness), with efficiently high resistance to bending and breaking, good slip resistance (R11) and the possibility of laying on levelled grass, on sand, and gravel, as well as on ventilated terraces. You can read about these hyper-resistant cladding HERE.
The thick terrace tiles allow free shaping of the green space, smooth transitions from the communication routes to the garden zones, which favours contact with nature and accelerates the convalescence process.
IN A NUTSHELL:
- In health care facilities, hygiene, functionality, and aesthetics are of the utmost importance.
- When choosing a floor covering, one should be guided by its durability, resistance to mechanical damage (abrasion, breaking, bending), resistance to chemical and organic substances, resistance to staining – all confirmed by certificates.
- In hospitals and other medical facilities, the most commonly used floor coverings are ceramic tiles which meet all legal and functional requirements.
- Well thought-out aesthetics of medical space has an impact on the course of the treatment process, physical and mental comfort of patients, a sense of security and acceptance.
- Designing the space of medical facilities should take into account the needs and age of patients – otherwise a hospital room should look for children, and differently for seniors. Gloss and clear patterns on the floors are undesirable.
- Hygiene is of the utmost importance for medical personnel; what counts is the acoustic comfort and aesthetics of space.
- Well-insulated “floating floorings” help to maintain acoustic comfort.
- Ceramic tiles with the smallest possible surface of joints (large-format rectified tiles, laid with narrow joints) work best in health care facilities.
- The space around medical buildings is also worth designing to be aesthetic and functional for users. For its arrangement, we recommend durable terrace tiles with a thickness of 20 mm, intended for ventilated terraces and garden paths.