care home lighting design

Lighting Design in Care Homes

There is a huge importance to good lighting in care homes, and healthcare settings for the elderly.  As we age physiological changes in the eye mean that our ability to see steadily deteriorates. People around 75 years of age will require twice as much light as normal lighting standards recommend. 

Care homes are areas where supporting older people with dementia, through good lighting would mean a better quality of life. Dementia effects the brain, and processing visual signal greatly reduces.

At Lighting Design Studio, we approach these elements by putting them at the forefront of any design. We look at each care homes’ requirements and critical components. This doesn’t just mean electric light, people benefit hugely from high levels of natural lighting. We calculate where needed the amount of natural daylight the care home is receiving. 

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As lighting consultants, we would recommend that people should actively go outside, especially during the morning.  Exposure to even an overcast sky can deliver enough light to maintain a good circadian rhythm. Where possible the use of natural light from windows in communal areas and corridors may be stimulating for occupants.

Artificial lighting for the following types of spaces should be carefully laid out. There are a few points that will really help, primarily by paying careful attention to the residents themselves. Uniform lighting everywhere should be avoided, as well as dark spaces which can lead to the inhabitants feeling uncomfortable or disorientated.


Create a domestic feel to the space, lighting should be practical and decorative. Do not place lights directly above the bed as this will cause discomfort if the user is lying in it. Use wall up lights either side of the bed, and make sure that a bedside light is used for localised, task lighting. A centrally positioned light will give general ambience.

Creating enough light is important, 150lux average during the day, and dimmed levels at night to 50lux. This should be treated as a home not an office or hotel, so avoid grid lights and harsh spotlights. Look to use luminaires with a soft diffused glow, supplemented by wall lights. Light door numbers so that residents can easily locate and find their rooms.

Dining Room

Again create a domestic feel. Floor standing lights can add to this, but you must ensure there are no trailing leads, or trip hazards. Products such as pendants will make this area feel more classical and homely, along with the wall lights.


Light levels here should be 300lux,  preferably from a ceiling light. A great tip is to provide low level external light next to the bathroom door triggered by a movement sensor, and perhaps additionally under the bed. This aids occupants to make bathroom trips in the night without disturbing their night time sleep too excessively.  

Light is essential for life, and the way that we live is disrupting our circadian rhythms, the biological clock responsible for every function in our bodies. You can find out more about circadian rhythms here. To those who are living in care homes, where many are less able to get out and about frequently, and are less active than the general population, having an appreciation of this fact is imperative if we want to promote a happy and healthy environment.

Bio Dynamic Lighting

Bio dynamic lighting has been trialled in care homes. One experiment of particular interest is a study named ‘Biodynamic lighting effects on the sleep pattern of people with dementia’ ( Ellen van Lieshout-van Dala,b,∗, Liselore Snaphaana, Inge Bongersa ).  It is well documented that dementia disturbs the circadian rhythm, more so than an average person and causes a higher burden for their carers. This study used biodynamic lighting which varied in colour and intensity, producing 7500 lumens, and a temperature between 2700 K and 6500K. You can find out more about colour temperature here.

Placing luminaires in the common area for a period of three weeks, and then removing them for the same period of time, gave results.  A positive effect on sleeping patterns of patients and carers, with decreases in the amount of night-time bed leave moments, and a reduction in napping during the day. 

Many facets of care lighting need to be looked at holistically. At Lighting Design Studio we make it our mission to give it the attention the residents and staff deserve.