Why Timber Handrails Are on Their Way Out in Aged Cares
We supply timber handrails into Aged Cares…a lot
Handrails are viewed as a necessary evil in any Aged Care. After all, Residential Aged Care is all about making the resident feel more ‘at home.’ Traditional plastic or stainless steel handrails can be an eyesore and lean more towards a clinical hospital environment. This has led to a significant rise in the use of timber handrails in Aged Care environments over the past decade.
However, more recently we have seen a reversal of this trend in Aged Care environments. Here’s why.
The primary purpose of a handrail is to keep the residents safe when moving around the facility. The secondary purpose of a handrail is to look attractive and homely. It is important to view handrails in this order.
Handrails are designed to be touched. They are touched and handled and relied upon by countless residents every day, making infection control and resident safety a challenge.
Although they perform well when they are brand new, timber handrails are prone to dent, chip and splinter. Any aged resident running their hand along its surface risks receiving a splinter in their skin, which can cause bleeding and infection.
Chipped handrails also create a surface for harmful bacteria to breed. Although pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) live longer on solid surfaces such as stainless steel, porous surfaces are difficult to clean and offer a place for them to hide.
Keep it Homely
As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing quite like natural timber to promote a homely ‘feel’ in an aged care.
Although I think that timber handrails are here to stay, thanks to new innovations, we have seen a trend towards more suitable alternatives, so that the handrail can be both safe AND look really good. We offer the 940W Series vinyl handrail which has proven to be an effective alternative to timber. The woodlands finish provides a realistic timber appearance and timber-like grain to complement the interior and ensure it will still look great for years to come. Meet the 940W handrail here.
Sure, timber handrails look great when they are new. But when they get on a few years and show a few battlescars of constant wear & tear, they can look quite an eyesore. This often leads to aged care facilities sanding back their handrails (changing its original shape) and even painting them (making any future scuff VERY visible).
One maintenance supervisor recently came to us with a new problem. Due to their rigorous cleaning regime, their handrails got disinfected every day and had developed a ‘white film’ on their surface. This is evidence of the varnish breaking down over time and reacting with harsh disinfectants that often get used in cleaning.