Dementia care

setting and one is that they should not be installed above eye level to ensure they will be within a resident’s natural field of vision. Within an effective interior design scheme, colour can be incorporated into the design of the signage without any loss of effectiveness.

To be fit for purpose, a sign requires specific visual content and must be extremely durable. Stick on signs are too easily removed or damaged, making them unreliable and reliability is a really important factor. Appropriate signage alone can provide a significant boost to residents’ confidence and their ability to find their way around independently. However, signage is most effective when used as part of a cohesive design strategy. Knowing where you are, especially if you’re looking for a toilet or your own room is vitally important. The consequences of not being able to locate these important places are numerous and negative, impacting dramatically on health, wellbeing, self-confidence and self-esteem and increasing demands on carers. Also, let’s not forget that even for residents who are not independently mobile, effective signage is essential too, as they still benefit from knowing where they are going when being escorted around the home.

The role of personalisation In a care home setting, a person’s room is their home, so appropriate support in locating and identifying it are essential. Personalisation in this context involves supporting residents in finding their own rooms. Within the context of a well designed dementia care home, this needs

Durable and interchangeable

personalised signage can be incorporated into a colour scheme while maintaining the essential visibility afforded by good design and colour contrast. Signs should incorporate words and images. These can be a name and a photograph (the obvious choice) or the words ‘Rose Cottage’ and a picture of a rose, but must be something the resident consistently and confidently recognises.

A well put together memory box should be filled with easily identifiable items that tell a story about the owner

to be effective, safe and inkeeping with the themes and schemes of the interior design. There are three solutions that are tried, tested and appropriate for this purpose: a personalised bedroom door; personalised signage; and memory boxes. Painting doors different colours and incorporating door numbers can make a bedroom door distinguishable from others around it. Another quick and cost- effective way to do this, especially if your home is full of flat, brown fire doors is to use decorative door coverings, which can be applied and in use within 20 to 30 minutes. However this is achieved, the design should of course reflect the resident’s choice to ensure it is based on something that is familiar to them.

A well put together memory box should be filled with easily identifiable items that tell a story about the owner. The memory box will then be a reliable, personal landmark as well as an attractive, interesting display. This can complement the environment and provide a valuable insight into the owner and their history and background. Memory boxes are a proven, effective solution that can be employed separately or collectively to orientate residents with dignified and highly effective personalisation. The ability to locate and enter one’s own space within the care home setting is vital in supporting confidence and personal identity. Having familiar items on display provides stimulus for conversation through reminiscence and valuable cues to enable carers to initiate relevant conversation. Personalisation reinforces the beneficial sense of ‘home’ that we should seek every opportunity to promote.

Providing stimulation

A common feature of poorly performing care homes is that residents are bored and have nothing to do. An inactive existence with no stimulation impacts negatively on residents’ health and wellbeing. It also impacts negatively on the carers’ role and leads to more rapid deterioration of the environment as well as increased repair and renewal costs. This inevitably impacts on everyone concerned as the quality of care and the performance of the business will decline. In the context of a well designed dementia care home, there should always be plenty of things to engage and

Destination points can include anything from a well stocked hat stand to a functioning café, hair salon or sensory garden November 2018 • 49

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