Lighting in Aged Care Facilities

Most elderly people have some form of vision impairment. Vision in dim lighting, reading small print, distinguishing colours, and transitioning between bright and dim spaces can all be problematic.

Lighting design for aged care facilities can be challenging, and often emphasises daylight and higher luminosity of ambient lights, minimising glare through indirect distribution and other methods, uniform light distribution and accent lighting for safety.

Designers plan lighting in aged care facilities based on the site conditions, building orientation, and needs of the patients. Lighting should be responsive to residents’ daylight and ambient lighting needs.

Guidelines require daylight in common areas such as dining and activity rooms, and wherever else possible due to its value for light levels, colour quality and circadian entrainment. If daylight is not available, ambient lighting should promote circadian entrainment through luminosity intensity and colour control.

Daylight can be balanced with light shelves, skylights, and more. To control brightness and minimise glare, daylight apertures should be properly shaded. Similarly, lamps should be properly shielded whilst producing light patterns free of glare and shadows.

A key consideration for senior living is visual adaptation. This is the ability of the eye to adapt from one light level to another to maintain visual acuity. For many elderly, adaptation between extreme contrasts can reduce visual acuity and possibly cause disorientation. Therefore, transition/entry spaces such as lobbies require higher light levels to assist with adaptation. If residents enter a low light level space, seating should be provided to give them time to adjust.

In living spaces, residents should have easily accessible task light. Low-level night lighting should be provided. In the case of possible disturbing night light, it should be portable or able to be switched. Additionally, corridor general lighting should reduce at night.