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Taking care: The role of flooring in healthcare facilities  
Taking care: The role of flooring in healthcare facilities

In 2020, the UK Government announced its New Hospital Programme — a plan to build 40 new hospitals before the end of 2030. More recently, in May of 2023, it was announced that this scheme would include the rebuilding of five hospitals across the country, demonstrating renewed commitment to the original 10 year goal. 

The facilities, in West Yorkshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire and Surrey, all feature reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – a lightweight type of concrete used to construct parts of the NHS estate in the past but which has a limited lifespan, after which it deteriorates significantly. 

Glenigan reports that even before the announcement in Q2 of 2023, a more encouraging prognosis had begun to emerge on the outlook for health-related construction. New health contract awards had been showing tentative signs of recovery and a surge in detailed planning approvals, particularly for major projects, would be contributory to a lift in activity in the sector, providing a wealth of opportunity for the construction sector as a whole, but particularly for resin flooring applicators. 

Understanding the hospital environment  

Healthcare facilities are unique environments with specific demands that require careful consideration when selecting suitable flooring solutions. These spaces experience constant foot traffic, with doctors, nurses, patients and visitors bustling through corridors and rooms day in and day out. On top of that, the hospital setting is prone to frequent spills of liquids and chemicals, making it essential to have flooring that can withstand such challenges without compromising safety. 

Keeping it clean 

One of the utmost priorities in healthcare facilities is infection control and hygiene. Maintaining a clean and sterile environment is critical to prevent the spread of infections and ensure the well-being of patients and staff. The flooring must be seamless and non-porous to prevent the accumulation of dirt, bacteria and pathogens, facilitating easy and effective cleaning procedures. 

Polymer flooring solutions such as epoxy, polyurethane, PU liquid vinyl and MMA are renowned for their seamless and non-porous surfaces, leaving no joints or grout lines for bacteria or pathogens to accumulate. This feature makes cleaning and disinfection procedures much more effective, contributing to the stringent infection control measures required in healthcare settings. 

Combined with suitable coving, a seamless floor-to-wall transition can be created, further extending the hygiene performance of the space. 

Durability on duty  

Durability and longevity are key factors in healthcare environments. With heavy medical equipment and sustained foot traffic throughout the building, the flooring must withstand significant wear and tear without showing signs of deterioration. Cracks and dents in the floor surface can lead to a build-up of bacteria as well as present a potential slip hazard for hospital users.  

Choosing appropriate flooring for each area of the healthcare facility not only saves costs in the long run but also minimises disruptions from frequent repairs or replacements – a critical factor in ensuring the smooth and continued treatment of patients. 

Polymer flooring excels in durability, capable of withstanding heavy foot traffic and the movement of medical equipment without showing signs of wear and tear. Resin flooring systems categorised by FeRFA as Type 4 and above are considered suitable for installation in medium to heavy duty spaces, with the durability increasing through the groupings. 

For example, vebrospeed Flake (FeRFA Type 4), delivers a medium to heavy duty decorative solution that is suited to corridors, consultation rooms and storage areas.  

vebroflex Comfort UV Plus and vebroflex Decorative UV Plus are FeRFA Type 5 flooring systems that not only effortlessly withstand damage from castors and wheels but also pack an aesthetic punch, making them perfect for main lobbies and high-traffic corridors where hospital beds and wheelchairs are likely to be in use.  

Safety concerns 

Hospitals are fast-paced environments where accidents can occur if proper precautions are not taken. Therefore, it’s essential for the flooring to offer slip-resistant properties, especially in areas prone to spills or water exposure, such as bathrooms, kitchens and entryways.  

Suitable navigation can also contribute to safety in healthcare settings, colour coded wayfinding, or colour blocking in different areas of the building can help to maintain a smooth flow of traffic. 

Chemical exposure 

Healthcare facilities often deal with a variety of chemicals such as cleaning agents, harsh chemicals, film-forming and medical substances. In the event of accidental spills, the flooring should be resistant to chemical damage, ensuring it remains intact and safe for use. This characteristic not only contributes to the longevity of the flooring but also supports efficient and safe cleaning practices. 

24-hour use 

Healthcare facilities must be ready to receive patients at any time, meaning there is minimal space for downtime. 

MMA flooring stands out in fast-turnaround scenarios with its rapid curing properties, allowing for fast installation and a quick return to service. This is particularly valuable for refurbishments where the area needs to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. 

Vebro Polymers is a resin flooring manufacturer with headquarters in Manchester, UK and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, supplying polymer flooring, specialist coatings, rapid-set cementitious underlayments and car park deck wearing solutions. 

Contact your local Vebro Polymers team to discuss your project requirements. 

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