Professional Comment

Considerations When Building a Care Environment Fit for Purpose

By Rishi Sodha, Care Director at Priesty Fields Care Home (

Certain considerations must always be contemplated and envisaged before constructing an environment for an elderly person to reside in, to ensure they are as comfortable, safe, and happy as possible.

Indeed, the future of the care sector is always evolving and conjuring new ways to adapt with the times. However, there is no doubt that the pandemic has articulated more attention towards the implementation and utilisation of technology when overseeing this process.

Technology, while it has underlined a tremendous deal of value for the care sector, has also emphasised the current quality of stock we’ve got in this country – and it’s fair to say, that it’s outdated.

Unfortunately, we’ve got stocks of buildings that aren’t fit for purpose in manifold means. They are architecturally flawed and fail to meet the demands of today’s care sector.

Remarkably, when we’re putting residents’ pure care needs under consideration, the UK still has buildings that actively work against our caregivers. Architecturally, the industry has missed a glaring open goal. For years, we’ve been screaming for a modular approach, yet still find ourselves trailing behind the times.

To put it into perspective, imagine you go into work and you’ve got to meet a deadline, but you’re placed in a room that’s so dark you can’t see your keyboard, or you’re by a printer that’s producing 20,000 sheets per hour and the noise is overwhelming. Already, you’ve got a substantial number of external factors working against you, contriving to make your work life extremely challenging. A similar situation still sadly exists for our carers. We are expecting them to deliver outstanding care in similar environments, where the building is actively working against them.

Residential care today, unfortunately, is where nursing care was 10 years ago. Nursing care is currently beyond the dependency their homes were originally designed for. Effectively, what we have in the care sector are environments no longer fit for purpose for the caregiver, and on top of that, are now being forced to adopt and implement stringent infection control protocols at the forefront of their care plans.

So then, what we’re left with is a quasclinical setting that has been innovated to manage infection control, which isn’t a bad thing, but highlights we no longer have care environments built for their specific purpose.

Looking ahead to the future, I genuinely think what we will see is more care homes being forced to close to pave the way for the next generation of care environments. Modern care homes must be designed in a way whereby they can evolve with those who operate within them. After all, if you don’t construct a building to be fit for purpose for the next five years – then you’re already fighting a losing battle. We should be striving towards a structure that can continually evolve for the next 50 years.

Furthermore, newer buildings mean you can build your infrastructure from the ground up. If you try to retrofit an existing and outdated home, the challenges will be exhausting.

Ultimately, for the sake of social care, the innovations we need to see implemented are beyond just the utilisation of technology. It’s time to put our money where our mouths are. If we’re going to be a care sector, let’s be a care sector. This is where a staff first culture is so important. If you want to take care of someone, you need people to take care of them – those are the fundamentals of care. We need people who want to be carers, who feel valued, fulfilled and most importantly, who enjoy and take pride in what they do.