By 2053, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) medium-level growth assumptions, 21% of the population will be aged 65 and over (8.3 million people) and 4.2% aged 85 and over (1.6 million people) *.
The impending strain on our healthcare resources means that facilities that place emphasis on wellbeing will be in high demand. Research into the impacts of the physical environment on the wellness of hospital patients and aged care residents can give valuable insight to architects, designers, and facilities managers.
Constant vs varying light, for example, has been found to affect Alzheimer’s sufferers and agitated behaviors in aged care facilities – a significant drop in disruptive behaviors is observed when residents are in constant light levels compared to varying light levels **.
There is also evidence to suggest that brighter light affects perception of pain, as can be seen in the case of spinal cord surgery recovery patients, with patients exposed to bright daylight conditions perceiving lower stress, less pain, and taking comparatively lower doses of medication ***. With quality daylight often at a premium in larger facilities, quality artificial light is the next best option to provide adequate illumination.
Much of this improvement in lighting and subsequent focus on wellness can be addressed by installing technologically advanced LED solutions, and by providing constant light levels using lighting control systems. These solutions can also help cater to the often-complex requirements of lighting in healthcare facilities – often a balance is required for patient care activities during medication administration (reading drug labels, color distinction) and creating a healing environment (low light at night) ***** AIHW analysis of ABS 2013a, 2013j