Extending the period of independence for people living with dementia is possible once you know how furniture can be designed to allow for the different challenges the condition causes, says Steve Nixon, from leading care home dementia furniture design company, Dayex.
As a leading supplier of furniture to the healthcare industry, we’ve seen a massive trend in requests for bedroom furniture that meets the needs of resident’s living with the varying stages of dementia. One of the most important things to develop when designing a bedroom for a resident is an understanding that there is not a one size fits all approach but a series of gradual changes once the resident is in situ.
We believe that a large element of the behaviour exhibited by residents with dementia is both an inability to conceive or define how certain things work and a reluctance to ask for help. With this in mind there are certain things you can do from the off that are designed to extend the period of independence for someone with dementia.
A great example of this is surrounding curtaining for a room. Select a colour fabric that encourages positive mental connections, perhaps in an appropriate pattern style, and add a leading edge to the interior of the curtain in a block, complementing colour. This is thought to enhance the resident’s ability to see where one piece of fabric ends, and another begins. This also encourages them to interact with the curtains, opening and closing them as anyone would.
Another method, specific to the bedroom furniture, is adding high contrasting handles to wardrobes, chests and bedsides, ideally so it stands out against the base material of the furniture, for example; wood styled furniture with metal contrasting handles. This will make it easier for them to see the handles, and then open the furniture and get the items they need.
In some instances, dementia furniture styles that let you see inside the units, either by a viewing panel or scalloped handles can be useful. These items of furniture should ultimately contrast against the wall they’re placed against. This is because dementia can cause vision problems. For example; cream coloured furniture against a plain cream wall would not encourage their ability to see the furniture.
Contrast is also a key word when referring to chairs and dementia. As the resident’s eyesight worsens it can become increasingly difficult to recognise shape. Adding contrast to chairs such as dual fabric colours or contrast piping to really define the shape of the chair will ultimately enhance their ability to recognise its function.
It is our firm belief that the best solution for extending the period of independence for residents living with dementia in a bedroom environment is to create spaces that are light, highly visual, aesthetically pleasing and importantly catered to that particular resident. For more information, visit https://dayex.co.uk/