Dementia is one of the most debilitating conditions in the UK today, affecting over 850,000 people. And with the UK’s ageing population these numbers are expected to increase, reaching 1 million by 2025.
With dementia sufferers on the rise, it is important that care homes are able to adequately cater for the specific needs of residents afflicted by this condition. But designing a functional and stylish space where dementia patients can feel calm and comfortable is no easy task. Every aspect of a room must be considered before manufacture and installation can start. Years of careful research into dementia friendly furniture designs have given us a good understanding of the ways spaces can be optimised for both dementia patients and their carers.
Firstly, the furniture you choose for your care home can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of dementia patients. A distinctive piece of furniture like a cabinet or coffee table can help dementia residents identify specific locations, particularly in spaces they may find disorientating, such as corridors.
At the same time, however, rooms that are too full of furniture can be overwhelming. The materials you use can also have an impact. Contrasting dark shades and light shades can help patients better distinguish furniture from the floor and walls.
Colour can drastically change the way dementia patients act and feel within a space, evoking an emotional response in many cases. This makes it all the more important to decorate and furnish with care.
Reds and gold stimulate feelings of sociability and appetite, making them particularly suited to communal areas. Pale tones and shades of blue and green are more relaxing and meditative for bedrooms. Dark colours and very bright colours like yellow have some positive effects on mood but may be overwhelming when used in excess.
As well as larger items of furniture, smaller pieces and soft furnishings can be used to make daily life easier for dementia patients. Soft furnishings make a space feel warmer and more like home, and simple patterns can add interest to stimulate residents’ senses. Using heavier fabrics for throws, rugs and carpets is also beneficial in dampening outside noise, which can be distressing for patients.
The choices you make regarding surfaces and flooring are important considerations as they change how easily dementia patients can navigate their home. Dementia patients often shuffle their feet, so even the smallest incline or decline in a room can result in a fall.
Materials like high gloss woods might appear wet to a dementia resident, and a change in carpet colour can be misconstrued as a change in level. All of these considerations are taken into account when designing your own product range.
Lastly, lighting makes a difference in any space, but it’s particularly important when designing for dementia patients. To accommodate those with poor eyesight and sensory impairment, it’s important to consider a range of lighting solutions. By incorporating LED lighting into our cabinets and wardrobe units, furniture can be made more visible and easier to access.