SOURCE: Ambius

Ambius

November 12, 2009 09:30 ET

Nursing Home Residents Feel Healthier and Happier When Empowered to Choose Their Own Décor

Research From University of Exeter and Ambius Indicates 'Empowered' Nursing Home Residents Feel Happier and Healthier by Influencing Their Surroundings, With Many Residents Indicating a Modern Taste in Artwork and Plants

BUFFALO GROVE, IL--(Marketwire - November 12, 2009) - A new study carried out by the University of Exeter and Ambius released today found that UK nursing home residents felt healthier, happier and more satisfied with their lives after being empowered to influence their own surroundings. The research, carried out at a senior living facility operated by Somerset Care, was initiated to investigate whether the trend for residents to retreat to their private space after disruption to their normal lives could be mitigated. The research sought to establish whether residents would make greater use of communal facilities that were re-furnished with the residents' choice of plants and artwork.

"In order to enjoy a long and healthy life it is recommended that people should remain active and share interests with others," said Jeff Mariola, Divisional Managing Director for Ambius overseeing European and North American businesses. "Diet, exercise and sleeping patterns all play their part, but for a happy, fulfilled and extended retirement, our research suggests that it is social interaction and social engagement that keeps seniors healthy for longer. However, once in a residential home, many older adults find that the staff removes most responsibilities while providing a comfortable, safe, hotel-like environment. As a result, residents make fewer and fewer important decisions about their own lives and risk becoming disenfranchised and isolated."

"According to psychological theory, residents in a senior living home who believe that it is within their power to make a difference to the appearance of their living space should feel more empowered, thus leading to more positive feelings towards their fellow residents, the care-givers in the home, and the home itself," said Dr. Craig Knight, the principal researcher behind these findings and managing director of Prism at the University of Exeter.

Research Results

The communal areas of one floor of the residents' home were re-furnished with the residents' choice of plants and artwork supplied by interior landscapers, Ambius. Following the redesign, residents were asked to rate their health and well-being on a numerical scale at various times over a four month period. By the end of the study it was found that, in comparison to their peers, empowered residents:

--  Used their lounge more than twice as much (217% more)
--  Were 40% more satisfied with their lives
--  Were 46% more comfortable in their home
--  Reported themselves to be 43% healthier
    

A Surprising aside

The residents empowered to decide on the décor of their home were seen to steer clear of floral patterns, chintz and pastel colours in favour of more modern art prints, bold colours and more 'architectural' plant displays. Although not tested, it has been conjectured that these choices were made because bright, bold colours and shapes are highly visible against the background of the space, standing out for those whose visual senses may no longer be as sharp as they were when young.

Commercial benefit

The research may also be of commercial benefit to Somerset Care. Conventionally, first-floor accommodation is discounted compared with ground-floor rooms (which have easier access to the outside). However, because of its "buzzier" feel, new residents are now choosing first floor accommodation in preference to rooms on the ground floor. As a result, discounts can be reduced, or removed entirely.

Commenting on the findings, the Care Home Manager, Jackie Howels, remarks, "We could not have predicted the remarkable positive changes in our 'empowered' residents. As we are a not for profit organisation, we can now reinvest funds from the higher rates for 'empowered' spaces back into the care home to further extend the scheme and benefit more of our residents."

New White Paper published

A white paper by Ambius published today titled "Health, Happiness and Higher Returns'' provides further detail on the significance of this project. The research is part of a wider body of work from The University of Exeter in collaboration with Ambius to understand how offering individuals the chance to influence their surroundings could impact their health, productivity and well-being.

Kenneth Freeman, international technical director at Ambius, comments: "The findings of this study back up the wider discovery that those 'empowered' to control the aesthetics of their surroundings can feel dramatically healthier and happier."

The Ambius whitepaper, "Health, Happiness and Higher Returns" is available for download at:

http://www.ambius.com/understand.aspx?ekfrm=3284

About Ambius

Ambius is the world's largest provider of plants, replica foliage and flowers for commercial environments. Ambius also offers a broad range of products and services including ambient scenting, and artwork which can help improve employee productivity, reduce absenteeism and boost well-being in the workplace. Ambius is a division of Rentokil Initial plc (LSE: RTO).

About Rentokil Initial

Rentokil Initial is one of the largest business services companies in the world, operating in all the major economies of Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Africa. The company has over 78,000 employees providing a range of support services in over 50 countries.

Contact Information

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