Dementia sufferers often have difficulty making sense of the world around them, becoming easily confused and frightened when it comes to time and place.
With an increasing number of people suffering from the debilitating condition – more than one million by 2025 according to the Alzheimer’s Association - it’s no surprise that hospitals and care homes are working hard to create dementia-friendly spaces, which improve the quality of their patients’ lives.
Today, care professionals recognise that small changes to colour schemes, design, light and acoustics make big differences to dementia sufferers, empowering them to carry out chores and activities which we take for granted – and increasing life expectancy in some cases.
At Ocura Healthcare Furniture we collaborate with hospitals throughout the UK to create environments which help patients feel calm, safe and more confident in finding their way around.
For example, we provided a bespoke colour co-ordinated bedside cabinets for a dementia unit at Clifton Hospital in Blackpool. By colour coordinating each ward, patients could easily identify their ward helping them feel more secure in their surroundings.
Here, we’ve come up with five handy hints for care professionals looking for the latest in dementia-friendly design innovation:
Be clever with colour and contrast
Good use of colour and contrast provides reassurance to dementia patients, who can struggle to read standard signs. Dementia sufferers can get upset and confused if they don’t recognise their surroundings – using colour to signpost wards and other areas helps create familiarity. For example, ensuring furniture such as overbed tables, bedside chairs and cabinets match the overall décor of a particular ward.
Conversely, this technique can be used to discourage interest in staff rooms, storage cupboards – and other restricted areas.
Transport patients back in time
A popular design trend, which works closely with reminiscence therapy, is the use of furniture that is designed to be reminiscent of a by-gone-era but with all the modern benefits of state-of-the-art support and antimicrobial properties for example, choosing stylish wooden-frame day chairs rather than a metal frame. Many of these chairs offer very similar benefits to metal frame chair such as being easy to recline and manoeuvre as well as providing high levels of lumber support.
In additional imagery on interior walls and doors is increasingly being used to transport patients back to a place or time they are familiar with.
Get the best rest
Nothing beats a good night’s sleep or an afternoon snooze – dementia patients should feel safe and supported in beds and chairs. Manual and electrically reclining chairs offer an ultra-comfort solution. Easy-to-use and providing excellent support, they allow the patient to get the rest they need.
Choose hardwearing, easy to clean furniture
Furniture must be hard-wearing with smooth surfaces to avoid bacteria getting into nooks and crannies. Bedside cabinets and wardrobes with quick release doors and shelves and seating with removable cushions and pads ensure furniture can be deep cleaned quickly.
Make the space safe
Many dementia patients are frail and unsteady on their feet – and the risk of falling generally increases when away from home. Mobile patient chairs reduce the need for patient transfer between furniture, while side access options make transfers from wheelchairs to day chairs easier. Elsewhere, sturdy infusion stands can provide some additional support when walking to and from the bathroom, for example.
To find out more about our range of dementia friendly furniture, email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to a member of our team on 01732 367 777.