The importance of environments that are

Dementia-Friendly

Benridge Care Group strives to provide excellence in care in all our homes. We know the way a building is designed can play an important role in how a person living with dementia may experience everyday living. Researchers have found that by incorporating colour contrast, pictorial signage, space, flooring, soft furnishings and furniture in particular ways can assist people to maintain their independence and dignity for longer. We have therefore taken great care in the design of our homes to ensure our homes are both welcoming environments that are sensitive to the needs of our residents. We have consulted with interior designers to use best practice in our homes such as soft furnishings, specialist flooring, dementia aware signage and pale pastel colours.

At Benridge our signage pays great consideration to our residents’ needs and perceptions. We use signage that incorporates a multiple cue concept as research has shown that traditional signage is often misleading or overlooked. Traditional signage tends to use images that fail to describe the location or activity function of the destination and uses illegible font. Research has shown that signage that incorporates the picture of the destination in question is much more effective for people with visual impairments and/or dementia. Dementia aware signage assists in orientating residents by reducing confusion, improving orientation and facilitating the maximum benefits of the home and its facilities.

The multiple cue concept works in a variety of ways to appeal to and build on remaining skill sets. For example, if a person finds it difficult to read a word then the picture could help them find the destination. A toilet is often signed by a stick person or WC. For a person living with dementia brain function often has difficulty in interpreting code, which can lead to anxiety because of disorientation and the urgent need to visit the toilet. The font used is also important as changes in the visual and brain function can mean that capital letters are often interpreted as a shape and for reason be unobserved. By using a capital letter first and lower font we can assist in first the shape and recognition of a word and the ability to successful read it.

Traditionally signage is located at the upper part of doors and walls where it is often out of the vision range for users. Research has shown by positioning the sign between 120cm to 130cm can maximise visual attention. Due to the normal ageing process and changes in the eye shiny surfaces can give the impression of water or present a glare that omits part of the word. The types of materials used for signage are often glossy, shiny or metal and can cause glare, which can prevent the full word being read. To overcome this, a matt laminate finish prevents glare and ensures the full multiple cue signage can be successfully read. In one case study, a lady would not go into the toilet as she thought the room was signed ‘to let’ and not as a toilet.

We have taken a great deal of consideration with our soft furnishings, floors and chairs to assure we have taken our residents needs as paramount. Specialist flooring supports our residents by soften acoustics and echoes, which provides a quieter and more homely feel. We provide chairs with colour contrast edges that promote depth recognition promoting independence with mobility and rest. Mealtimes are of utmost importance too. Our residents enjoy a great variety of home cooked meals in settings which are designed to encourage social interaction and dignity.