Lynwood Care Centre is the bespoke-designed care centre that will open on the Lynwood Village site in late autumn. Within the care centre are seven houses, some of which have been specifically developed to enable the best possible care for people with dementia. Drawing on the best examples from around the world and designed by leading architects in this field, every aspect of the environment in these specialist dementia care houses has been carefully considered. But why is environment so important for dementia care? And what should you look for in a specialist dementia care home?
In this blog we share some of the design features of Lynwood Care Centre’s specialist dementia care houses and explain why they are so important to enable residents to move around freely and safely, maintain their independence and boost their self-esteem.
The importance of bold bright colours
Some age-related deterioration of eyesight is normal, but its effects are more exaggerated with dementia because of memory loss and an inability to think logically. This means careful consideration of colour and contrast within a home for people with dementia is very important. Bright colours like red, yellow and orange are seen best; blue and green are the least easy to see.
- At Lynwood Care Centre, staff will wear brightly coloured clothes so they are easy to pick out.
- Toilet doors will be bright yellow so residents are better able to find the toilet when they need it, reducing the levels of incontinence and maintaining independence.
- Toilet seats will be a dark, contrasting colour so they stand out.
- Hand rails are painted a bright colour that contrasts with the wall.
- Chairs will be brightly coloured so people with depth-perception problems can distinguish between them and the objects around them.
- Big patterns will be avoided because of possible misinterpretation which could be distressing to someone with dementia.
Avoiding mirrors, shine and glare
People with a dementia may not recognise themselves in a mirror and think that someone else is in the room, which could be very frightening. At Lynwood Care Centre, there are no mirrors other than small mirrors in residents’ private bathrooms, which are mounted on a hinge so they can simply be tilted upwards if the reflection is unwanted.
The glare off shiny or reflective floors can look slippery which for someone with dementia can be mistaken for being wet or possibly even a pond, which should be avoided. Floors need to be light colours with a matt finish to avoid any concerns.
Just as shiny surfaces can appear ‘wet’ to someone with a dementia, a lift floor that is black could be perceived as a dark pit or large hole – something dangerous that should be avoided. All floor surfaces at Lynwood Centre will be light oak throughout, even in the lifts, avoiding any confusion or perceived threats.
Thresholds, such as the metal bars used to grip carpet in doorways, can also be challenging for people with dementia, they step over them because of spatial awareness problems and an inability to think logically or problem-solve.
Creating familiar and comfortable spaces
Filling residents’ bedrooms with their own personal possessions helps make them familiar spaces that create a feeling of safety and comfort. At the entrance to each bedroom in Lynwood Court we will have memory boxes, these are A4-sized boxes with shelves and Perspex fronts. Residents fill these boxes with personal memory cues – from beloved photos to football scarves to favourite objects – and it helps them recognise that this is their room, and it’s a safe and familiar place
Quality of care is most important, but environment matters too
Ultimately, the care residents receive from the people who look after them is by far the most important element of a residential care centre, but from our growing understanding of the various types of dementia it is clear that environment is also hugely important. We are in the fortunate position to have been able to design Lynwood Care Centre from scratch to ensure we are delivering the best possible environment for the needs of our residents. This is not something that every other care centre has been able to do, but the use of bright colours and changes in flooring are alterations that are easily within reach. If you are looking for suitable dementia care, keep an eye out for these subtle markers as they are indicators of knowledge and understanding of the needs of people with dementia.