It may seem like a silly thing to write about, but the state of a community’s public restrooms is extremely important. Often the main concern from a marketing standpoint is the ‘first impression’, how the building looks when a potential resident and their family walk in the door. But it is important to remember all areas visitors could potentially see.
Take this quick test to see how your bathrooms measure up:
-Are they unclean?
-Are they cluttered?
-Are there outdated or damaged finishes?
-Do they give you a feeling of ‘hurry up and get out of here’ rather than calm?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you need a restroom refresh!
A refresh can be as simple as a deep clean and piece of artwork. Stand in the doorway and really look at everything, from ceiling to floor. What bothers you? Make a list of things you’d like to change from biggest priorities to smallest, and work from the top down. The beauty of small bathrooms is that you are not working with a lot of square footage, so any finishes you want to change can be budgeted pretty easily.
Some things to do/keep in mind when looking at your restroom:
- Store toiletries and medical items out of site. Depending on space, place a small console table or shallow wall-hung cabinet in the room to store items like toilet paper, gloves, and wipes.
- Decorate-simply. Hang a couple pieces of art. I usually put at least one piece of art on the wall that people see as they enter the bathroom, and then possibly one over the toilet. If you have a small console table or cabinet, a faux orchid, grasses, or a succulent will look nice on it. Remember, less is more.
- Add some color. Paint the walls a subtle color (light blues and greens are always good options), or bring in colorful artwork. Having everything beige makes the room look sterile. Conversely, don’t go crazy with a bright or dark color. The small square footage of restrooms make them too small to handle ‘big’ colors.
- Don’t rely on heavily scented air fresheners. If the restroom is kept clean, you should not need an air freshener. However, if you feel one is needed, make sure to get one with a clean scent like fresh linen. People can be very sensitive to odors and have very distinct taste when it comes to them. NOTE-Never put air fresheners in Memory Care restrooms where residents can access them.
- Make sure any visible cleaning equipment isn’t an eyesore. Nothing is a bigger turnoff than looking at a plunger or dirty toilet brush when you go to flush the toilet. If you keep a plunger and brush set in your restrooms, spend a little more to get a set with covers like these, or keep them in the maintenance closet.
- Keep a ‘restroom check’ schedule. Anyone who works in senior living knows that distractions are constant! Having a specific time (or times) during the day where someone is checking each restroom will help keep up with them and prevent those dreaded “someone needs to clean the bathroom” scenarios.
- Have one designated ‘Family Restroom’ that is kept locked. If there are plenty of restrooms available to residents in several different areas, I don’t see why you couldn’t keep one locked to control who uses it. A key could be kept at the front desk, or in the main office. Keep this bathroom on your checklist so that it doesn’t get ignored. All restrooms should be kept clean in anticipation of use.
I understand that keeping a bathroom spic and span in senior living can be somewhat of a challenge, but it should be an area of focus as far as housekeeping and design. If the restrooms look nice, the client knows that you care about every aspect of the community-especially the people in it.