Products & ServicesProfessional Comment

“Ugliness Kills” The Lifesaving Necessity of Aesthetic Design in Elderly Care

By Roeland Pelgrims Co-Founder and CEO of Nobi Smart Lamps (

In the complex world of elderly care, where safety and security are the top priorities, design often falls by the wayside. However, this is a mistake, and one that comes at the cost of people’s wellbeing and potentially their lives.
Scientists have proven that surrounding patients, and the residents of longer-term care facilities, with good lighting, beautiful design and a connection to nature will speed their recovery, and dramatically improve their quality of life. So why is it that medical tech developers doggedly prioritise functionality over form, making assistive technology clinical, obvious, stigmatising and ugly?
Nobi aims to contribute revolutionary, lifesaving fall detection and prevention technology to the Agetech sector without compromising on design. In the past, Agetech has tended to view older people purely as passive receivers of care. But that is not how we see them, and for their mental and physical wellbeing it is imperative that this is not how they see themselves. The award-winning Nobi Smart Lamps support older people to continue living as independently as possible, offering a reliable safety system, while blending seamlessly into their surroundings.

The restorative power of beauty
Science has shown that waking up every day surrounded by ugly medical equipment can diminish a person’s wellbeing and sense of self. Some may find this hard to believe. We rarely stop to consider that the impact of beauty isn’t just psychological; it’s physiological. A landmark study, conducted by Roger S Ulrich demonstrated that patients in rooms with garden views convalesce faster than those who are stuck staring at a brick wall. But this isn’t just about pleasant views, it shows that our surroundings have a measurable impact on our physical health. Being surrounded by beauty led to shorter postoperative hospital stays, fewer negative evaluative comments from nursing staff, less moderate to strong medication, and fewer postoperative complications. Results that are very hard to ignore.

Laura Gilpin further expanded on the idea of using aesthetics to accelerate healing. She found that displaying psychologically appropriate artwork reduces stress and improves pain relief outcomes. Other studies, conducted by Eastman et al., and Beauchemin & Hays, highlight the restorative power of light.

They showed that bright light therapy had an antidepressant effect when compared with a placebo, and that patients treated in sunny rooms had a significantly shorter stay in hospital on average, when compared with patients treated in dim rooms.

Putting the research into practice
All of this works together to confirm something that we already instinctively know; that well lit, nicely decorated surroundings with a connection to nature in the form of a garden, will make someone feel happier and healthier than being confined in a dimly lit space with nothing but bare walls. So, what can we do to help already overstretched care facilities implement these practices for their residents?

Long term care facilities, assisted living facilities, and hospice care are necessary services, that most people will encounter in some form throughout their lives, whether it is as a family member, resident or member of staff. These places should be as welcoming and comforting as possible; an oasis where older people can continue their lives with the support and care that they need to maintain their dignity and quality of life. Instead, for many they are clinical and cold.

Innovators in the AgeTech space are helping to bring about this change, one item at a time. Nobi smart lamps bring a wealth of hight tech functionality to protect and support vulnerable people, whilst also bringing the healing powers of warm light and beautiful design. These lamps are designed to work with residents to prevent and detect falls without looking like a medical device.

The lamps blend into a room and bring medical functionality, but with a home appeal. Implementing more features like this will in turn free up care professionals time to focus on one-to-one care.

A shift in this space to prioritise quality of life is long overdue. We have a wealth of scientific evidence to support taking a more holistic approach to healing and health, where every aspect of someone’s life is incorporated into their care plan. The sector is overstretched, with staff shortages creating stress. For this reason, introducing a new approach, that prioritise form as well as function, beauty as well as basic care, must be baked in from the ground up. Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially in a sector as a large and complex as adult social care. However, now that we can quantify the healing power of beauty it would be inexcusable to ignore it.

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