Making health-centre environments people-centred

The goal for all new construction and renovation of existing nursing and care homes must go beyond providing shelter, but consider quality lighting that is sufficient for the maturing eye. It must meet the older adult’s visual and photobiological needs in order to reduce the risk of falls. To be successful, health environments must provide lighting conditions that are people-centred – safe and secure for older adults and people with dementia.

As we grow older less light reaches the retina at the back of the eye and as a consequence the lack of light results in poor visibility, causes disruption to the circadian rhythm and increases the risk to falls. Due to sensory loss and physical frailty, the older adult becomes more dependent on their environmental cues (1).

The lighting in most nursing and care home facilities are typically inadequate and do not always meet the lighting needs of their residents. It is usually the residents with dementia who have greater visual impairment and receive far less bright light exposure for the synchronising of their circadian rhythm and vitamin D synthesis. As a result they experience more falls, hip fractures and sleep problems compared to those living in the community (2).

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  1. Figueiro MG., Plitnick B., Rea MS., Gras LZ., Rea MS. Lighting and Perceptual Cues: Effects on Gait Measures of Older Adults at High and Low Risk of Falls. BMC Geriatrics, (2011);11(49).
  2. World Health Organisation WHO Global Report on Falls Prevention in Older Age 2007.