Healthcare, News, Residential

South Australia care home brightens up with LED lighting

This home for elderly people in South Australia is happier, safer and more comfortable – thanks to new lighting.

Bellevue Court, owned by Southern Cross Care, is a brand new state-of-the-art, 80-bedroom home for elderly people in Gawler, South Australia.

When you’re over 50 years old your eyesight is deteriorating so you need better light”

Charlie Way, Southern Cross Care

Each bedroom has a spacious en-suite bathroom, built-in wardrobe, air-conditioning, a direct dial phone, TV, Wi-Fi, and bright lights designed to keep elderly residents safe and comfortable.

‘Most lights provide 160-170 lux but when you’re over 50 years old your eyesight is deteriorating so you need better light,’ explains aged care provider Southern Cross Care’s group manager for property and procurement, Charlie Way. ‘Prevention of falls is imperative and poor lighting in en-suites and rooms create a real hazard if you don’t get the right lux level.

But if you go higher than 200 it creates discomfort for residents and they can’t see clearly; so it has to be not too bright and not too dark,’ he says.

As a result, Bellevue Court has a minimum of 200 lux throughout the building, in hallways, dining rooms, leisure rooms, bedrooms and en-suites.

Allowing a lot of natural light into the building is important for people’s wellbeing, so the rooms have large windows; and there is a lot of natural light in the dining areas. ‘Loss of appetite is also a natural part of ageing and some studies have shown lighter dining rooms increase the appetite,’ says Way.

Care has also been taken to reduce the occurrence of dark shadows, which can be confused for objects. This is particularly important in areas for people with conditions such as dementia. In addition, as recommended by the Dementia Enabling Environments Project, the flooring reduces any reflected glare from lights, as a person with dementia may think shiny surfaces are wet, and avoid walking on them.

Other recommendations include avoiding directional spotlights as the main light source as they can cause areas of bright light and glare while leaving other areas in darkness. Sudden changes in light level should be avoided as shadows can be caused by non-uniform lighting; transition lighting between well-lit areas and less well-lit areas should be used instead. Uplights can be used to ensure diffuse lighting in a space. Light directed towards a matt painted ceiling will bounce off it and fill the room with diffuse and even lighting.

As well as being a better light for residents, LEDs are saving Southern Cross Care money in maintenance, and Way believes LED is the way forward. ‘A normal halogen light will need changing after around four to five months, but LEDs are expected to last much longer. We have them on 24/7 in some places, such as the reception area,’ explains Way. ‘As maintenance isn’t needed to change lights so often, the crew can get on and do other things. It is a big benefit.’

The cost of the LEDs, supplied by Technilux, was $95,000, however Way predicts Bellevue Court will benefit from massive energy savings. ‘In our other facility at Lourdes Valley, we changed 400 halogen downlights for LED – although it cost $30,000 to do this, Southern Cross Care had recouped the costs through maintenance and energy savings within around 14 months.’

Plus Bellevue Court has a central control system, enabling all lights to be turned on and off, ensuring lights aren’t inadvertently left on in areas such as the lounge and dining room. However Way says residents can control the lights in their own rooms. ‘But to prevent falls, there are no dimmer switches in the rooms,’ he adds.

Overall, Way says the lighting has played a big role in making Bellevue Court a brighter, happier place – just as a home should be.