Architecture of Edinburgh care home a ‘secret weapon’ in virus control



The owners of an Edinburgh care home have revealed how the innovative design of the building has helped protect residents from coronavirus.

Cramond Residence, which cares for up to 74 older people, said its success to date in keeping the virus at bay is partly because the building was specially designed for enhanced infection control.

While praising staff and relatives of residents for their efforts in halting the deadly disease, director Graeme Kelly revealed that architecture has been their secret weapon.

Mr Kelly, himself a qualified surveyor, said: “Fortunately our care home was purpose built and when it was being designed, we ensured that infection control was a top priority.

“We worked with the architects at every stage to include the most up-to-date best practice. So far, those measures have stood up very well to the challenges our sector is facing from coronavirus.”

Among the most important design elements are self-contained, small-group living units, a clever air extraction system and specially laid out bathrooms.

Mr Kelly added: “We’ll never be complacent, because nowhere is immune from coronavirus. However, the thoughtful design of our home has been an extremely important factor in protecting our residents so far, along with the professionalism of our clinical-led care team.

“It’s well known that large, communal areas can lead to the fast spread of infection throughout a care home. Our design addresses this, because Cramond Residence is designed to function as nine separate homes across three storeys.

“Each small group living area has up to eight bedrooms, with a private lounge, dining and snug facilities. When necessary, residents can be cared for in small groups using the self-contained facilities.

“This is excellent for privacy and quality of life generally, but really shows its true value when everyone is working together to reduce the potential for an infection to spread.”

Another innovation at Cramond Residence is the negative-pressure ventilation system, the same kind of ventilation used in hi-tech hospitals and medical centres to prevent cross contamination.

Graeme Kelly

Rooms contain a single air extract drawing air out of each individual room - and the system is designed to create a negative pressure, that extracts airborne germs and droplets from each bedroom. This significantly reduces any drift of airborne infections – like coronavirus - into shared spaces. 

The third crucial design element is that every room has en-suite facilities, removing any need for residents to share bathing and toilet areas, further reducing cross-contamination and making personal hygiene targets easier to achieve.

Mr Kelly added: “These design elements have come into their own during the pandemic, but it would all be for nothing if we didn’t have such a dedicated, well-drilled and professional team.

“We’re incredibly proud of how our staff have responded to the pandemic. Thanks to them we were recently given a positive inspection report from the infection control and prevent experts at Health Protection Scotland.”