OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore variation in environmental quality in Swedish residential care facilities (RCFs) using the Swedish version of the Sheffield Care Environment Assessment Matrix (S-SCEAM).
BACKGROUND: Well-designed physical environments can positively impact on health and well-being among older persons with frail health living in RCFs and are essential for supporting person-centered care. However, the evidence base for informing the design of RCFs is weak, partly due to a lack of valid and reliable instruments that could provide important information on the environmental quality.
METHODS: Twenty RCFs were purposively sampled from several regions, varying in their building design, year of construction, size, and geographic location. The RCFs were assessed using S-SCEAM and the data were analyzed to examine variation in environmental quality between and within facilities.
RESULTS: There was substantial variation in the quality of the physical environment between and within RCFs, reflected in S-SCEAM scores related to specific facility locations and with regard to domains reflecting residents' needs. In general, private apartments and dining areas had high S-SCEAM scores, while gardens had lower scores. Scores on the safety domain were high in the majority of RCFs, whereas scores for cognitive support and privacy were relatively low.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite high building standard requirements, the substantial variations regarding environmental quality between and within RCFs indicate the potential for improvements to support the needs of older persons. We conclude that S-SCEAM is a sensitive and unique instrument representing a valuable contribution to evidence-based design that can support person-centered care.
assessment; long-term care facility; older people; person-centered care; physical environment