There's no doubt that elderly people have an easier time living in single-storey buildings. Unfortunately for these seniors, land is both limited and expensive, so there's a good chance your residential elderly care facility has at least two storeys, if not more. For those with mobility problems, the stairs between these storeys can provide a challenge. But what can be done to combat the problem outside of installed lifts and stair lifts? If you're worried that your nursing home's stairs are a hazard for your residents, or you simply want to make life easier on their ageing bodies, here are 2 upgrades you can make to your staircase.
Install a Second Handrail
Young people and those with healthy joints can usually climb stairs without the use of any handrail at all. For elderly residents, this is usually impossible or very difficult. In fact, some seniors will struggle with only one handrail available. Why not consider having a second handrail installed for your residents to use? Having an additional rail to hold onto can help them manoeuvre themselves up the staircase safely, giving them extra support to prevent stumbling.
If you do opt for this route, stainless steel handrails are the best choice. These strong rails are durable, which is essential when breakages could cause a resident to fall. Stainless steel is also more hygienic than wood and other alternatives -- it's easy to clean and can be coated with antibacterial protectants. This is a huge benefit for ageing bodies as contracting even a small infection can be devastating or even fatal for a weak immune system.
Lower the Rise, Raise the Tread
Sometimes rebuilding the entire staircase is the best option. This is especially true for nursing homes set in preexisting buildings which weren't built with seniors in mind. Shallow and steep stairs are difficult for elderly residents to navigate -- one wrong move could cause their foot to miss the step, leading to dangerous consequences.
If your budget allows, consider rebuilding the staircase with a lower rise (the height of the step) and higher tread (the depth of the step) . One remodeller suggests that a 6 to 7 inch rise and 12 or more inch tread are the safest measurements to opt for in the case of elderly users. If you do remodel your stairs, take the multiple handrails into account. The staircase should ideally be wide enough to allow residents to hold onto both rails at once, without being so narrow that they are cramped and unsafe.