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DOE Gateway Report Looks at Tunable Lighting in Senior Care

Sept. 19, 2016
The study found that contractors aren’t yet familiar with tunable systems and controls, that finding the proper balance of automatic versus manual tuning of the lighting spectrum and intensity is challenging, and that educating residents and staff is essential when implementing new lighting solutions in senior-care facilities.

Color-tunable and dimmable solid state lighting is starting to demonstrate real-world improvements in well-being for residents of a senior care facility in Sacramento, Calif. The installation also lends some lessons about ongoing challenges such as the need for contractors to get up to speed on the nuances of tunable lighting systems and controls.

New, tunable lighting at the ACC Care Center is the subject of the latest Gateway report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Gateway reports present data on solid-state lighting from real-world demonstrations.

DOE took field measurements of illuminance, color quality and energy consumption before and after the installation of LED lighting to replace fluorescent lights in one corridor, two resident rooms, a nurse’s station, the common family room and the administrator’s office. The installation incorporated a number of different tunable-white fixtures from different manufacturers, as according to the report at the time of installation there were very few tunable-spectrum fixtures available in the market. All the same, the systems were reported to be consistent in color across the dimming range.

The lighting was tuned to suppress melatonin production in the mornings through mid-day, then to allow its production in the evenings. The ACC staff attributed some changes in resident health following the retrofit to the tunable lighting, said the report.

For example, among the three residents studied, agitated behaviors such as yelling and crying decreased following the LED trial installation. In addition, psychotropic and sleep medications were significantly reduced for one of the residents. And in the corridor studied, the number of recorded patient falls decreased after the LED installation. What’s more, it was reported that residents of other corridors were now “hanging out” in the LED corridor.

The study also found that contractors aren’t yet familiar with tunable systems and controls, that finding the proper balance of automatic versus manual tuning of the lighting spectrum and intensity is challenging, and that educating residents and staff is essential when implementing new lighting solutions in senior-care facilities.

The ACC Care Center plans to incorporate many of the lighting solutions and strategies as best practices for future renovations and expansion.