Imagine being unable to perform a simple task, like tying your shoelaces. This should be easy, you’ve done it countless times before, but somehow you can’t make sense of the two pieces of fabric between your fingers. For many people living with dementia, everyday tasks like this grow increasingly difficult to perform which causes frustration and impacts on independence, confidence and self-esteem. The care home environments in which some people with dementia live can really help to increase their confidence, here are a few design and planning factors that we consider when taking on a care home project.
Planning is key
Each project is worked on in partnership with care home providers to ensure their living and communal areas are planned with the user in mind. This is a vitally important approach to take. Many people living with dementia are affected by sensory impairment, making it difficult to differentiate between tonally comparable objects. For example, if a room’s door, walls and architrave are painted too similarly it can be almost impossible to distinguish the doorway. When combined with an unfamiliar environment this can prove confusing and frightening. It’s therefore important to use a variety of appropriate tones and colours throughout a space to help highlight the location of certain objects and establish perimeters.
It’s equally important to ensure all fabrics, carpets and worktop finishes used throughout a care home do not contain confusing patterns or create visual boundaries across floors. Designs like this can make users feel anxious and stressed; a flecked surface, for example, can appear dirty to someone living with dementia and result in them trying to clean it for prolonged periods of time.
Furniture should be specified and built with just as much thought and consideration. We recommend providing chairs, beds, wardrobes and tables that are as robust and sturdily built. Strong, dependable pieces of furniture will help residents feel safe and secure when using them. Ideally, they should also be made with contrasting shades and textures to help people easily identify specific areas. When designing our dementia furniture, we do everything we can to minimise any potential stress factors for users. For example, our Caspia furniture range, which has been designed for bedrooms and lounges but is also adaptable for kitchen areas, incorporates vision panels and open areas to allow better visual access for users. For people living with dementia, sometimes the fear of embarrassment can limit what they are willing to try. Making a cup of tea is a much less daunting task in a kitchen when you can immediately see where everything is.
Does your care home have a thoughtful design? Do you notice that interior changes can affect your clients? We would love to carry on the conversation on our social media @knightsbridgefurniture on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.