Choosing the Right Furniture for Your Group Home
by Don Epp, SARC Facility Planner
How Do You Know What the Right Type of Furniture Is?
Choosing the right furniture for your group home is not an easy decision. Durability and price point are often the deciding factors when buying furniture. Something that can stand the rigors of group home living on a limited budget.
“We want our house to look like a home” is often what is said when it comes to purchasing furniture for a group home. The same sentence often ends with, “but it has to be durable”.
To help make this decision about what furniture is best for a group home, consider the following:
- Who will be occupying this space and are there any special requirements needed?
- What type of furniture would support these needs and activities?
- Where is the furniture going to go in the room?
- How will people use this furniture?
All these questions will help define what type of furniture is needed for certain areas of the group home. There are many types of furniture that have a variety of options for all sorts of situations and people. What works well in one group home may not work well in another. The main goal, when choosing furniture, is to create rooms that support the needs and activities of the people living in the home.
Consider These Factors When Making Your Choice
Although there may not be a “typical” group home, when it comes to furniture, group homes are the same in that they support residents’ independence while offering safety and comfort. In a group home, the appropriate furniture has a positive influence on independence, safety, and comfort.
Independence can be created by simply changing the layout of the room. Access to windows and electrical outlets can be accounted for with the placement of furniture. The layout can also influence traffic flow, and incorporate accessibility requirements. Some common areas can offer both a community area as well as an area for privacy.
Furniture designed for people with limited mobility can help with independence too. Chairs with arms provide extra support for transitioning from sitting to standing and vice versa. Someone with reduced muscle tone can benefit from a chair with a higher seat height which will improve their ability to stand from a sitting position. No need for staff assistance. A shorter seat on a chair also aids in the sit to stand transition. Cushions on the chairs are important for comfort, but not too soft that it becomes an obstacle to standing and not too hard that it is uncomfortable over time.
Bariatric furniture can be designed to look similar to the rest of the furniture in the room. Wider, stronger chairs, strategically placed within the room will also add to independence.
Adjustable tables are available where 4 people, with different table height requirements, can eat their meal together. The table top height of each quadrant can be adjusted independently. Sharing a meal with friends also aids independence.
Safety is important for all residents and staff in the house, and furniture plays a big role. There are chairs, beds, clothing storage and tables that are designed for different situations that can keep everybody safe.
- Fluid resistant – in times of COVID-19, it is important that furniture can be easily disinfected and cleaned many times a day. Modern upholstery fabrics are designed to sustain wear and facilitate cleaning. There are even couches and chairs that are designed to drain fluids to the floor so that the chair cushions and the interior chair structure does not get wet. There is no pooling of liquid and professional cleaning of furniture is not needed.
- Weighted Furniture – There are instances where the activity of one resident affects another person living in the home. Sometimes this could include the throwing of furniture. Weighted chairs can prevent furniture from being a hazard. With that in mind, specific chairs can be sought for their weight. Some chairs weigh 150 pounds, almost impossible to lift, let alone throw.
- Bed bugs – these have, on occasion, visited group homes in the past, and they are difficult to get rid of. Some bed designs have incorporated finishes that make it difficult for bed bugs to climb and have removed ledges and crevices as possible hiding spots. Some companies boast of a bed bug resistant bed and bedding.
Comfort – Some residents will be seated for long periods of time, so comfort is necessary. Stylish furniture, with scaled down cushions, avoiding deep soft seats, are available. Modern designs with comfort as a priority can still check all the boxes for independence and safety.
Sturdy construction also adds to the comfort of furniture. Solid construction materials are easier to repair and often have a longer lifespan than composite materials. There are also stylish and comfortable one-piece molded polyethylene chairs with a variety of safety features.
Making the Right Investment for Your Organization
Furniture can be a large capital expense for a group home. It affects all facets of daily life and is in constant use every day. Spending more money on furniture may be worth it in the long run, especially if it meets the needs and activities of the people living in the home.
Consciously managing the type and placement of furniture in a house will have many benefits. Carefully chosen furniture can help create a safe, comfortable home where independence can be experienced. There is information on the internet about all types of fabrics, foams, frame construction as well as industry specific terminology.
Safe, comfortable furniture, as described above may not be available from your local retailer. Many residential looking pieces of furniture from local retailers may not hold up to the rigors of group home living. With the advances of design, materials and construction, many “commercial” pieces of furniture have a home-like appearance, with the durability needed for a group home.
If you are looking for more information on this and any other topics related to Facility Planning, you can always reach out to me at 306-933-0616, ext 238 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to helping you with your next project (big or small!).