Scenting and odor remediation in LTC facilities

Roel Ventura
Roel Ventura

For any business, creating a pleasant environment is essential to attracting and retaining clients. While the natural inclination is to focus on visual presentation, smell plays a key role in how we perceive our surroundings and is strongly tied to our memory. This is especially true in a long-term care facility.

Bad smells can ruin the perception of a community,  whether they stem from an expected source or from pungent cleaning agents. Pleasant smells, on the other hand, can subtly improve the perception of a facility and contribute to a multi-sensory experience that leaves us with a lasting, positive impression.

Long-term care facilities face challenges common to many other types of businesses, such as food preparation and stored food scents, odors from restroom facilities, and foul garbage smells that accumulate in loading docks and trash collection areas. But there are additional factors in a facility related to seniors' urinary or fecal incontinence and its accompanying smells, as well as strong cleaning agents needed to sterilize a healthcare facility.

Finding and removing any source of odor, and then cleaning up all traces of it, are critical steps in preventing smells from lingering.  Yet while sanitation and cleanliness form the first line of defense against these malodors, many develop strong aversions to facilities that have a bleach-like smell.

Additionally, some smells can take root over time and become difficult to eliminate. Everything a skilled nursing facility does involves protecting the health, well-being, and care for seniors. That can be undone by one foul smell, especially for prospective residents and their family members. When a facility's maintenance staff has done everything they can, but can't prevent odors from building up, a quality scenting vendor becomes an indispensable asset.

An intelligent scenting strategy not only makes an elder care center comfortable for its residents, it also provides a more pleasant experience for visitors and staff alike. Ambient scent is an effective way to positively influence the experience of anyone who enters the building. In addition to eliminating bad smells, pro-active management of scenting can greatly impact perception of the facility and differentiate it from the competition. It can become a crucial part of how you market the environment as warm and homelike.

Technology in this field has come a long way in recent years, with equipment like nebulizers that evenly distribute scents through existing ventilation systems and allow a greater degree of control over the amount of product used – a far cry from aerosol sprays or plug-in devices.

For example, citrus smells are powerful in counteracting malodors in bathrooms and other trouble areas. Lavender scents provide a calm, relaxing atmosphere in residential areas. Warm scents such as cinnamon conjure memories of home and make waiting rooms and other common areas more welcoming to guests.

When potential residents and their family members shop around to pick the right elder care center, they may not consciously know what they are smelling. But scenting can subconsciously make a powerful impact on their decision. A combination of scents throughout the facility can invoke a comforting, homey feeling that reinforces the impression of cleanliness without the overpowering smell of cleaning products that can leave a place feeling too cold and sterile.

Roel Ventura is an ambient designer at  Ambius. He specializes in cut floral arrangements, ambient scenting solutions, and interior plants and containers for businesses in the St. Louis area on behalf of Ambius.


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