I interviewed Diana Cellela of The Drawing Room Interiors as part of a case study I created for Karndean Designflooring, showcasing the use of their stone-effect Art Select luxury vinyl flooring at the EachStep dementia care centre in Manchester.
Diana is a specialist in dementia-friendly design, and is the chairman of the SBID Healthcare Advisory Council, which is currently launching.
She explained a few of the tips and tricks when creating an environment for this particular user group.
There are many different views on what ‘Dementia Friendly’ design is but overall any area should be as comfortable and non-institutional in appearance as possible. A home-like or cosy look will make the residents or patients feel more at ease.
Dementia-friendly design helps to prevent accidents amongst dementia sufferers, who can have difficulty distinguishing between, or can trip and fall over, surfaces or objects with a similar light reflectance value (LRV). Flooring and furniture, for example, is recommended to be specified with at least a 30% contrast in LRV.
Conversely, they can become confused when they see two adjoining floor surfaces that have a strong contrast in LRV. Two different floor materials or finishes may appear as a step, or the dementia sufferer may perceive a hole or hollow in the floor. Flecked patterns can appear as dirt on the floor and motifs may look like actual objects, and the person may bend down to wipe the surface or pick something up.
When selecting fabric for curtains, blinds or upholstery, try to avoid large busy patterns as these have been known to cause frustration. Also avoid flowers as some suffers may try to pick the flowers, or bold stripes as may be seen as bars at the window.
Acoustics are extremely important; background noise can lead to extreme frustrations, so minimize noise, by using soft fabrics or acoustic panels.
Furniture should have rounded edges and is good to have fronts which allow the patient to see what the furniture is used for, for example, scooped or Perspex frontage where some of the contents are visable, this can act as a prompt to the resident.
There are so many changes, some small, that can be made to an interior that can make a massive impact on the life of a dementia sufferer, from signage, to use of reminiscence rooms, rummage boxes, artwork and colours to name just a few.
EachStep Blackley is a dementia care centre run by the not-for-profit social and health care provider CIC Group. For the reception area flooring in this project, Diana specified a stone-effect finish, which would avoid the problems described above, and also had the necessary durability to withstand the high traffic levels expected.
Dementia friendly design can be studied at the Dementia Centre at Stirling University, and the Centre Director Professor June Andrews is also on the Society of British Interior Design’s Healthcare Advisory Council.