Considerations When Purchasing Senior Living Furniture (Top Ten List)

Choose Furniture With The Longest Product Lifecycle

Initial/upfront costs are one thing, but a complete expense picture includes an expectation for increased maintenance costs (both labor and materials). Evaluate the replacement cycle of furniture in your current facilities, and then compare it with the stated lifespan of the products you are currently considering purchasing.

Furniture should be built to last, so it doesn’t fail due to regular, sustained everyday use. It’s altogether better if it withstands the daily challenges in senior facilities: wheelchairs, Geri chairs, monitor carts, etc. Offsetting ongoing furniture replacement costs puts dollars back into your highest priority line item: high-quality staff and exemplary resident care.

Select Furniture That Significantly Decreases Maintenance Costs

Find a product that is easy to maintain. Look for seating, tables, and casegoods that can be easily cleaned and repaired in seconds with steel wool, rather than items that require stripping, staining, varnishing, and numerous labor hours to maintain their visual appeal. Make sure the products you buy have sound engineering. For help spotting products with top-notch design, talk to the experts at Lerdahl.

Spills of all kinds are every day in senior healthcare environments. Stain-resistant, removable fabrics and cleanouts make items easier to clean and maintain. Antimicrobial compounds are ideal.

Focus On Furniture That Supports Infection Control Protocols

Infection control protocols are critical in caring for your residents. Find furniture that will support your efforts in limiting healthcare-associated infections by being antimicrobial, water-resistant, and easy to clean. Products need to be tolerant of the harshest cleaning requirements and substances without damaging the finish. 

Also, look for furniture manufactured from a material that will not split, swell, crack, or chip due to normal usage. Lastly, look for furniture with limited grooves,
nooks and crannies where debris and spill-related soil can lodge without being easily disinfected/cleaned.

Carefully Evaluate The Warranty: Both Scope and Length

Not all warranties are created equal. The warranty should be for a substantial period: at least a decade, cover both construction and finish (not only manufacturer’s defect as is typical) and not be pro-rated. Regular usage of the product should not void the warranty! Search the furniture world, and it becomes apparent that ensuring customer satisfaction and product integrity doesn’t happen, especially from both manufacturing and finishing perspectives. 

Kwalu products are backed by the industry’s only 10-year, performance-based warranty on both construction and finish, making them ideal for any environment.

Pay Attention To Lead Times and Installation Services

Look for a company that manufactures in North America. This should ensure that lead times are within 4-6 weeks, as opposed to the 12-16 weeks for manufacturers/ suppliers who have to ship their imports from overseas. Some companies with sufficient manufacturing capacity may even be able to deliver within 2-3 weeks, resolving issues when you have incurred citations for existing furniture.

Some companies offer ‘turn-key services, with a national network of installers and on-site technicians to ensure that the removal of existing furnishings and new products’ installation goes off without a hitch. If you do not have sufficient staff to handle an extensive delivery and installation, this should be seriously considered. The dollars spent on installation services are correlated with a significant decrease in time, effort, and inconvenience to staff and residents

Consider Overall Style

Product Variety For All Areas Of Your Community

Traditional, transitional, or contemporary? Select furniture and components to reflect one of these themes throughout your facility. The furniture company should offer a complementary range of designs, styles, and finishes across their product lines to have a cohesive design story from your entrance and lobby through common areas such as lounge, dining, and activity rooms, to resident rooms. The design of the furniture should ultimately reflect the spirit or ethos of your facility.

Aesthetic considerations will be the significant contributing factor to potential residents’ and their families’ first impressions. It will also influence ongoing satisfaction with existing staff, residents, and their families. Currently, evidence-based design has demonstrated that homelike furnishings and style offer the most soothing environments, decreasing the need for specific medications, helping residents remain calm, and providing a general sense of wellbeing for both staff and residents.

Check to see if the company you’ve selected offers other solutions that extend beyond furniture, such as wall protection and handrails, to ensure that your facility maintains optimal appearance and performance with minimal effort.


Take Heed Of The Company’s Reputation and History

Look for manufacturers that specialize in your market segment, as they will be intimately conversant with your specific concerns and limitations. Find a company with a strong track record within the industry. 

Check references – don’t be afraid to ask for critical clients. If the company offers a substantial warranty, check to see when it was established and how many years it has been in operation. Ask the manufacturers for local and current customer references. They should be able to provide you with any testing certificates you require. 

Look for companies that put their money where their mouths are – i.e., support your industry through tradeshows, affiliations, memberships in industry groups and organizations, etc. Ask about industry awards for exemplary design and outstanding service.


Look For Products That Are Specifically Designed With Your Daily Challenges In Mind

One size does not fit all. Pay attention to the company’s specific focus—select products designed specifically for long-term care and commercial applications that are comfortable and appropriate for your environment. Manufacturers who specialize in furniture for the senior living market will ensure that seating has wide arm/hand grips that aid with ingress and egress. 

The depth of the chair, sofa, or loveseat will be adequate, and the foam will be firm to prevent the indignity of sprawling backward. The seating will be scaled appropriately for the elderly. The edges of all exposed areas in both seating and casegoods should be radiused to prevent bruising and cutting fragile, elderly skin.


Find A Company That Offers Superior Design Support Through Custom Products

Know that the label of ‘custom’ need not be cost-prohibitive. Sometimes floor space might require a custom product. Regulations concerning storage space for residents are constantly changing. Especially with renovations of older buildings, providing adequate storage for residents can be a challenge. 

Look for companies with custom capabilities to design products to fulfill your specific needs regarding dimensions, space utilization, custom color matching, or integrating to match existing décor. There’s nothing worse than discovering that your furniture company is a “one-trick wonder,” with no other products to coordinate with the rest of your facility.

Green Can Be Good

And We’re Not Talking Color

There are many affordable green options available today. Again, pay attention to the product lifecycle. Check for products that don’t release VOCs and can contribute to LEED points via substantial recycled content, manufacturing processes, green fabrics, and more. Internal air quality and VOCs significantly impact those with decreased immune systems and compromised respiratory capacities – common in elderly residents. 

Look for companies that use certified wood products in their manufacturing and utilize reusable or post-recycled content whenever possible.

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Materials and information supplied by Kwalu.

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