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5 Considerations: Specifying Behavioral Healthcare Furniture

1 in 5 patients admitted to an acute psychiatric unit may commit an act of violence, and between 75% and 100% of nursing staff on acute psychiatric units have been assaulted by a patient at some stage in their careers. That’s an alarming number!  Fortunately, there are things a facility can do to minimize the risk to patients, staff, and visitors. Investing in furnishings specifically designed and manufactured for behavioral health facilities is one consideration.

Here are five things to consider when purchasing furnishings for your next Behavioral Health project:

Safety
This is the most important consideration when specifying furniture for behavioral health facilities.  Seating designed for safety will inhibit concealment, feature anti-ligature components, have no sharp points or edges, include tamper-resistant hardware, break-resistant glides, and floor-wall mount options.

Durability
Furniture can help combat self-destructive behavior; it should be movable, yet too heavy to throw. Tables and seating finishes should be specified to deter destruction that leads to objects that can inflict harm to themselves and others.  High-pressure laminate, solid surface, and polyurethane surfaces are application specific finish options and can be used where appropriate. Specifying healthcare-grade upholstery materials provides additional durability.

Aesthetics
It’s true – the behavioral health landscape has changed.  The principles of Concierge Healthcare Design are being applied to Behavioral Health Facilities to help ease the anxiety of patients, caregivers, and caretakers.  Furniture is specified with residential appeal, and materials should be specified for their symbolic meaning rather than for pure functionality. Avoid complex patterns, color stimulation, and reflective surfaces.

Infection Control
Healthcare-acquired infections are always a concern in any healthcare setting. Seating should be easy-to-clean with a 3-way clean sweep around seat cushions, contain no crevices that encourage concealment and provide textiles and finishes that withstand stringent cleaning agents.

Comfort
Furniture should be selected to help patients, and visitors feel at ease. Upholstered furniture provides the ultimate comfort for seating.  Multiple types of seating and sizes should also be specified to give patients and visitors the choice of finding furniture most comfortable for them.