Impact of flooring on healthcare visitors

Flooring maintenance protocols

Most hospitals operate around the clock, and spaces like operating theaters, ICUs, and patient rooms need to be cleaned frequently. Therefore, cleaning protocols can have a significant impact on both the staff and patient experience.

For example, flooring requiring the use of cleaning equipment, such as a spinning bonnet machine, can be extremely disruptive in healthcare environments. However, surfaces needing less intrusive equipment like a handheld mop can maintain cleaning protocols without negatively impacting the patient experience. Surfaces mandating a strip/wax/buff treatment also place unnecessary inconvenience and stress on hospital staff.

Replacing flooring in a healthcare environment can be extremely challenging considering the continuous operations and need to keep spaces clean and safe. Downtime and disruption due to flooring failures is simply not an option. Engineered surfaces with heat-welded seams support a sterile environment and aggressive maintenance and can withstand rolling loads of more than 454 kg (1000 lb), such as diagnostic equipment.

Helping visitors navigate complex spaces

The stress many visitors feel when walking into a hospital can be compounded when they cannot find their destination quickly and easily. This can also place additional stress on staff when they are asked to give directions while performing their rounds.

Wayfinding can help visitors better navigate hospital spaces by using directional tools provided in the built environment. Flooring can support wayfinding in hospitals through the use of color coding or graphics to help guide traffic and designate different departments.

Surfaces featuring water jet cut patterns, symbols, and logos or heat-set urethane decals can assist with wayfinding and messaging. These decals are far less expensive compared to inlays that are water jet cut. Unlike inlays, heat-set decals are not permanent. These decals have become increasingly popular since the onset of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing floor markers. Healthcare environments are also using them in physical therapy in lieu of tape and to encourage patients and visitors to use the stairs, wash hands, or practice other wellness behaviors.

Elevating the staff and patient experience

Choosing the right floor can have a tremendous impact on healthcare settings and contribute to employee retention, according to the study 2020 Vision: Working in the Future of Healthcare. It can lower the stress of patients through reduced noise levels as well as decrease the risk of slips and falls. Specifying optimal flooring can enhance the overall wellness of frontline workers and reduce noise in the healing environment while minimizing recovery times and improving patient outcomes. The cumulative impact supports providers’ efforts to maintain the quality of care for patients while contributing to the financial stability of the healthcare system.

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