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One floor covering, multiple benefits for nursing staff

Tasha Hughes, Marketing Specialist, PR, nora systems, Inc.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than 2.6 million registered nurses employed nationwide. Nursing is also the fastest growing occupation in the United States, with an anticipated 22 percent increase in the number of nursing jobs by 2018. It makes sense, then, that designers, facility managers and healthcare administrators are paying more attention to creating environments that support this portion of the workforce, looking at everything from lighting and furnishings to the floors beneath them. One flooring product in particular—rubber—is earning high marks, not only for the comfort it offers, but also for a number of other benefits that enhance the work environment in healthcare settings.

Comfort underfoot eases leg and back pain
Comfort underfoot is probably the benefit most often cited when discussing the positive impact rubber flooring has upon nurses who spend long hours on their feet, in some cases walking as many as several miles a day in a single shift. That’s because unlike most hard floor coverings, rubber is a flexible material that absorbs the pressure of footsteps differently. In doing so, it helps to alleviate the pressure constantly placed on the joints of nurses and reduces many of the complaints associated with heel pain, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain, hip pain and lower back pain, complaints common among nurses. And less pain translates to happier nurses who are less fatigued and better able to concentrate on the tasks at hand and the patients in their care.

Slip resistance reduces risk of falls
Rubber flooring also reduces the risk of falls, both among nurses and their patients. The slip resistant properties of rubber are enhanced by the floor covering’s natural density, which allows it to stand up to water, chemical and other liquid spills. The floor does not absorb liquids, so that spills can be cleaned up quickly and effectively, minimizing slip hazards and ultimately reducing payouts in workers’ compensation claims.

Nurses will also find it easier to push carts, heavy equipment, beds and wheelchairs across rubber flooring, thanks to the floor’s resiliency. Its low resistance to wheeled equipment reduces the possibility of over-exertion and enables hospital staff to provide service to patients in a safe, timely and efficient fashion, increasing patient satisfaction in the process.

Good acoustics increase concentration
The noise created by these rolling loads as well as footsteps and voices in hallways, patient rooms and treatment areas is also made less distracting, thanks to the acoustic properties of rubber flooring. In fact, although most building materials simply transfer noise throughout a space, acoustic rubber flooring solutions use resilient material to absorb as much as ΔLw 18 dB for a perceived 75 percent reduction of sound. For patients, improved acoustics encourage the rest and sleep so important to recovery and positive patient satisfaction surveys. For nurses, this often means the ability to better concentrate, retain information, respond to patients and increase productivity.

Chemical-free cleaning saves time, improves indoor air quality
Concentration is further enhanced by a cleaning regimen that creates fewer interruptions to schedules. That’s because rubber flooring features a dense surface that helps repel dirt and bacteria and does not require waxing, specialty coatings or labor-intensive stripping and re-coating. In some cases, the floor can be cleaned with little more than tap water. This is especially important in facilities that operate 24/7, where disruptions to schedules can be minimized and large portions of the building do not need to be closed for extended periods of time.

Rubber flooring’s simple cleaning regimen also means the absence of harsh chemicals associated with cleaning, wax and stripping products, to the benefit of patients and staff alike. Patients do not need to be moved during the cleaning process—even those suffering from asthma, allergies and other respiratory conditions—and, along with nurses and other medical staff, experience improved indoor air quality. 

Bacteriostatic properties help prevent infection
Meanwhile, staff can be confident that the floors are clean. Hygienic rubber flooring is naturally bacteriostatic and fungistatic, helping to protect the health of hospital residents, staff and visitors by inhibiting the growth and reproduction of harmful microorganisms. In hospitals, where exposure to bacteria and fungi is a common challenge, these floor covering qualities help prevent infection and protect vulnerable patients while meeting the strictest healthcare regulations and specifications for bacteriostatic interior surfaces. Like their patients, nurses are less likely to fall ill, and they can feel good about lower infection statistics among their patient population.

They also enjoy an environment that is attractive, soothing and conducive to healing, thanks to a wide variety of colors, textures and patterns that are available in rubber floor coverings. Multiple design options make it easy for designers to incorporate and coordinate rubber flooring in various spaces throughout a healthcare facility, while ensuring that nurses experience the performance benefits so important to their health and their professional success—comfort underfoot, slip resistance, good acoustics, simple maintenance, improved indoor air quality and bacteriostatic properties.

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