Seating in aged care: Physical fit, independence and comfort
journal contributionposted on 25.06.2018, 00:00 by A Blackler, C Brophy, Maria O'ReillyMaria O'Reilly, M Chamorro-Koc
Objectives: This research was intended to provide a greater understanding of the context and needs of aged care seating, specifically: To conduct an audit of typical chairs used in aged care facilities; To collect data about resident and staff experiences and behaviour around chairs in order to gain a deeper understanding of the exact issues that residents and staff have with the chairs they use at aged care facilities; To identify positive and negative issues influencing use of chairs in aged care facilities; To deliver evidence-based recommendations for the design of chairs for aged care facilities. Methods: Methods included a chair dimension audit, interviews with residents, experts and carers and observations of aged care residents getting into chairs, sitting in them and getting out. Results: Results showed that residents, experts and carers all prefer chairs which are above the recommended height for older people so that they will be able to get out of them more easily. Armrests were essential for ease of entry and egress. However, many residents struggled with chairs which were also too deep in the seat pan so that they could not easily touch the floor or sit comfortably and were forced to slump. Most residents used cushions and pillows to relieve discomfort where possible. Conclusion: The implications of these issues for chair design and selection are discussed. Variable height chairs, a range of chairs of different heights in each space and footrests could all address the height problem. Chair designers need to address the seat depth problem by reducing depth in most aged care specific chairs, even when they are higher. Armrests must be provided but could be made easier to grip. Addressing these issues would increase access to comfortable yet easy-to-use chairs for a wider range of the aged care population.