A Picture of health: Using paint to create hygienic and inclusive healthcare facilities [Blog]

A Picture of health: Using paint to create hygienic and inclusive healthcare facilities [Blog]

A blog written by Crown Paints

Healthcare environments are varied, ranging from vast hospital complexes to individual living spaces within a care home. But across the board, whatever the setting, the paint specification plays a key role. As Crown Paints’ colour consultant, Kathryn Lloyd explores in this blog, the right paint can help create a healthy and hygienic environment, reduce maintenance cycles and create colour schemes tailored to suit the different requirements of different settings.

Practical benefits of appropriate colour specification

Colour choice is about so much more than simply picking colours that look aesthetically pleasing. Healthcare environments in particular can benefit from harnessing the power of a strategic colour specification to enhance the space for all users.

Colour can aid mobility around a building for everyone. Specifying different core colours for each corridor and stairwell is a simple way colour can assist with wayfinding in large hospitals where multiple levels or areas can look similar, or on a smaller scale in a care home where residents may struggle navigating their way due to memory loss. Specifiers should also bear in mind that as the eye ages colours become duller so stronger, richer colours are
more easily recognised and remembered than duller pastel shades which become difficult to distinguish between.

When creating environments which are inclusive to those with visual impairments, it’s vital that colours not only complement each other but also provide the required level of tonal contrast. Contrast can be determined by the Light Reflective Values (LRVs) of each colour, which relates to the amount of visible light that is reflected when illuminated by a light source. On a scale from 0 to 100 where zero is assumed to be an absolute black and 100 to be a perfectly reflective white (white paint has a LRV of 90) it is recommended that there is a difference of approximately 30 points between the colours. Contrasting shades can be used to pick out features such as doorways, access areas, and handrails, as required under the Equalities Act.

While you can use colour to highlight a particular area, you can use it equally well to detract attention away from certain areas. For example, grey and monotone colours don’t stand out as well to dementia patients, so painting store cupboard doors or other rooms not for use in these colours can help keep patients out of harm’s way. For such areas, the handrails could even be continued across the door to match corridor handrails and the door and architrave could also both be painted the same colour as the walls to blend in.

The emotional response to colour

Colour is almost entirely subjective so we all respond uniquely to different tones, but there are common reactions which specifiers can draw on to create tailored colour schemes to suit different end users.

In children’s wards, for example, it is important to create a welcoming and cheerful atmosphere to put children and their parents at ease. A bright, colourful scheme is the ideal way to achieve this, along with bespoke murals which can be painted directly onto the walls.

At the other end of the spectrum, soothing calm tones and pastel shades can help calm people’s nerves while waiting for treatment or to see a friend or relative. People who are anxious may find an abundance of strong hues overwhelming. But that doesn’t limit you to blues and greens - choosing chalky, less saturated colours can work well, either dark or light shades, with small proportions of bright colours to add interest and create a distraction.

High performance product specification

Products with exceptional durability, such as Crown Trade’s Clean Extreme range, help reduce maintenance cycles to save valuable resources. Independently tested to ISO 11998, the industry standard for determining the wet scrub resistance of dry paint film, on which Crown Trade’s Clean Extreme Scrubbable Matt achieved a Class 1 rating, the highest, and has an impressive durability level of 10,000 scrubs. This means that walls can be repeatedly scrubbed clean, time and again without any detriment to the paint finish. Paint will therefore retain its fresh ‘just painted’ appeal despite the rigorous cleaning regime a healthcare facility demands.

Even when surfaces look clean, they can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Historically, anti-bacterial paints have been prone to the problem of leaching when, over time, the organic or chemical anti-bacterial agents migrate to the surface of the paint film where they can be wiped away. Crown Trade’s Clean Extreme Anti-Bacterial Scrubbable Matt is different in that it utilises the natural protection of silver ion technology, which inhibits the growth of any bacteria that comes into contact with the surface. This ensures that the anti-bacterial protection can’t be washed off no matter how many times the surface is scrubbed clean.

Considering fire safety is equally as important as creating a hygienic environment in the healthcare sector. Crown’s range of fire retardant Timonox products have been formulated for use on new and previously painted wall and ceiling surfaces and are independently tested to provide a Class 0 rating against the surface spread of flames. That doesn’t make walls and ceilings resistant to fire – but, crucially, it can slow the spread of fire over a building’s surfaces – buying more time for the building to be evacuated.

Typically healthcare settings are in near constant use, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, leaving little time to carry out essential maintenance works. Opting for water-based products is an ideal way to keep downtime to a minimum when maintenance is required. As well as being kinder on the environment, water-based paints also dry quicker which helps to keep downtime to a minimum.

Crown Trade’s high-performance products including Clean Extreme and Timonox can be tinted to match most RAL shades to complement any colour scheme – so there’s no need to compromise or choose between paint performance or colour.

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