Hello, my name is Rick Meinking and I am the Plant Operations Director at Seventy Five State Street. We are a non-profit long term care facility providing care for 160 elderly residents. The reason I am writing is to offer some input to the article “Risk management: Lighting’s impact on residents" in the DON’s corner of the November 2008 edition of Long-Term Living.
While I do concur that lighting issues are extremely important for this population, I feel that Carmen Bowman's was a bit over the top with her assessment. I’m particularly concerned with her findings of the level of “blindness” in 40 of the homes she tested with her meter. I am suggesting that her findings were flawed because of a faulty light meter. Having used many types of light meters for many years, I would say that if her light meter was reading ZERO it wouldn’t be possible to even read the meter. ZERO is total darkness, therefore why would you even use a meter to assess the “foot-candles” in a totally dark room?
There is no doubt; lighting issues need to be discussed in long-term care facilities. Each facility is in some way unique in that the residents all have different lighting needs. Discoveries in the last few years have suggested that lighting needs for the aging are more towards the shorter wavelength or the blue part of the spectrum. Daylight is certainly an effective way if harvesting that part of the spectrum. I highly recommend IENA/ANSI document 2001 Lighting and the Visual Environment for Senior Living as a source of guidance when addressing the needs of your facility and the impact is will have on your residents.