Health and Aged Care Fabrics

07-Nov-2016 | Knowledge-Hub

A guide to help you with the selection of fabrics for healthcare applications 

In the 17 years that Healthcare Furniture Australian has been involved in the Healthcare industry, one area that has continually changed has been Upholstery. The industry itself over that period has changed extensively, from Facilities with Low Care, High Care and Dementia exclusive areas to being completely aging in place.

Pick only impervious materials

This has led to the need for completely impervious materials for upholstery to be used right throughout a facility. Due to incontinence issues experienced by the elderly, it is imperative the materials are non-porous and that cleaning regimes are in place to deal with this on an ongoing basis.

We have seen a lot of changes with Fabric houses trying to meet the growing need to have a variety of upholstery that not only has the qualities that are required such as being impermeable, anti-fungal and anti-microbial but that are attractive to the eye and have the features that will allow for the upholsterer to be able to use the specific fabrics on different pieces of furniture.

Beware of the following issues with upholstery

  1. Over the years we have experienced numerous issues with upholstery that can be difficult to envisage until we are at the stage of sewing the upholstery on pieces of furniture. Such issues are that the crypton backed fabrics in some cases when they are a thick fabric prior to having the backing membrane attached are then far too thick to be able to use on the curved arm details of lounge chairs and couches.
  2. Other issues that can be experienced are not so noticeable until the furniture and fabric have been used at a facility for a period of time. Some of these that we have also seen are vinyl fabrics that do not have enough “Memory” to retract back to the way the item of furniture is meant to look, meaning that the upholstery ends up having a “puddling” affect especially on the seat cushions. This has usually been on larger pieces of furniture with big seat cushions.
  3. Upholstery should be smooth and easy to clean with few seams, folds or any other place where food and other contaminates can be caught. Some of the Healthcare fabrics that have a high pile, for example the look alike Velvets and Chenille’s can be very difficult not only for the upholster, but for the cleaning staff, it can be additional hard work to try to get down into the pile to remove the contaminates instead of just wiping over the surface that can be done on a flat pile or vinyl upholstery.

Best fabrics to choose

Common fabrics that are appropriate for Aged Care are, Zircons, Cryptons and Vinyl with a lot of new ranges being added all the time by the fabric houses keeping up with the needs of Designers and owners to introduce individual looks to each facility. With this ever changing area of our job, selling furniture into the Aged Care and Hospital sectors, our staff at Healthcare Furniture Australia need to keep in mind the issues we have seen in the past and to look for certain qualities in specified fabrics that may prove problematic with or furniture. We will often send cuttings to our factories prior to ordering the specified upholstery so we are reassured of the fabric working well for the furniture end products.

HFA encourages clients to work closely with them throughout the selection process of fabric and furniture so we can provide guidance and our clients get the benefit of our vast experience and knowledge.


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