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A CONSIDE The right floorcovering plays an essential role in creating a dementia-friendly e


There are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. And with an ageing population this number is expected to rise: over one million people are predicted to be living with the condition in 2040.


Unsurprisingly, we are seeing an increase in demand for dementia-friendly buildings, and flooring is often the first priority. The principles of good dementia design can benefit us all, but they are particularly important in care homes and other aged care facilities.


Flooring contractors working in this sector will already be aware of the fundamental safety elements required– a robust, anti-slip option is a must in some areas, to help movement and avoid slips and falls. But less may be known about how the consideration of colour, contrast and texture can improve the safety and wellbeing of residents with dementia.


CONTRAST AND PATTERN As people with dementia can misinterpret abstract patterns and abrupt contrasts, flooring designs without motifs, shadows or sudden changes in style are best. Due to their perceptual difficulties, people with dementia tend to stop at every contrasting line or pattern they see on the floor. A striped carpet may look like a staircase or a change in depth, for example.


However, a contrast between wall and floor colour is incredibly important – as it helps to reduce confusion. If the floor and walls are a similar hue, they can appear to merge into one: this makes it difficult for anyone with the visuo-perception difficulties, which come with dementia, to navigate that space.


30 | HEALTHCARE


LIGHT AND SHADE The sensory challenges experienced by people living with dementia means that very dark shades which provoke anxiety, should be used sparingly. A dark grey or black carpet can look like a black hole: in essence this is like asking somebody to walk off a cliff. Likewise, floors that are too light can create a feeling of walking on air. They may look clean, clinical and modern, but they become destabilising for dementia residents.


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