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‘It is incredibly important to consider the appearance of any potential floor covering and how it might be perceived by someone with dementia’

realistic reproductions of natural materials such as wood and stone etc. These design styles were previously only offered in luxury

vinyl tile collections. Today, they’re also available on sheet vinyl products, which means attractive decorative safety flooring ranges featuring sustainable wet slip resistance can now help create the same positive ambience in a care setting.

Impact of sight loss

However, when selecting a floor covering for a dementia- friendly environment it is important to remember that one in three people diagnosed with dementia will have significant sight loss, including reduction of peripheral vision and changes to colour vision. Large proportions of the remainder will also have deteriorating sight through normal ageing. This is why it is incredibly important to consider the

appearance of any potential floor covering and how it might be perceived by someone with dementia.

New principles The University of Salford has been working with the industry

to develop some new dementia-friendly flooring principles to assist specifiers working on dementia care projects. These principles-cross-refer with The Department of Health

HBN 08-02 (2015) document and have been discussed and agreed with The Salford Dementia Associates, a group of people who are living with or caring for someone with dementia. The following aspects of flooring design and specification are some useful examples of the developed principles that can help


those with dementia to feel more at ease: • Use a matt flooring as shiny or glossy surfaces can cause glare and give the illusion of wetness and thus the feeling that the floor is slippy, which can cause confusion. Use a product without sparkle or shimmer as this can also make the floor look wet.

• Choose a floor without highly contrasting secondary flecks and speckles, as someone with dementia could see these as something to pick up off the ground. Tonal flecks or solid colour designs are preferable.

• The use of subtle effects that replicate natural outdoor materials such as wood and stone promotes a homely, fresh feel that people living with dementia are more familiar with.

•Floors featuring various patterns and textures should be avoided as this can lead to confusion and increased aggravation in those living with dementia. Flooring which contributes to sensory overload can confuse the eye and cause someone with dementia to wrongly per- ceive it as a step, an obstacle or a hole.

• The floor needs to be seen and experienced as one continuous surface. Use flooring with similar tones and light reflectance values (LRVs) in adjacent areas as a strong contrast in colour can be perceived as a step. However, a strong contrast – a difference in LRV of 30 points – is required between the colour of walls, skirting boards and floors, as well as between floors and furniture as this can help those who are visually impaired to navigate around a room.

• Strong colours with more depth are better than paler shades for those whose colour vision has deteriorated. However, dark colours should be avoided as these could trigger emotions of imprisonment or might be viewed as a hole in the floor.

• Acoustic flooring is recommended to absorb noise and reduce impact sound levels between rooms as noise can agitate those with dementia.

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