How To Create Dementia-Friendly Environments?

Using Partition Screens For Dementia

It is estimated that dementia affects 46.8 million people worldwide, so we believe that creating the right environment is vitally important in order to provide safe care for those living with dementia.

In a study taken by the Alzheimer’s Society, it found that 92% of people said hospital environments were frightening for the person they know who is living with dementia. This needs to change. With 25% of acute beds occupied by people living with dementia, it is crucial that we make hospital environments as comfortable and as stress-free as possible.

 KwickScreen partition screens used as a backdrop to create a dementia-friendly environment

KwickScreen partition screens used as a backdrop to create a dementia-friendly environment

Why is it such a frightening environment for those living with dementia?

Imagine you wake up in a room that you do not recognise, surrounded by people you do not
recognise. Whenever you ask where you are, these people start telling you that you are in your bedroom, but you know that this is not your bedroom because you know full well what your bedroom is supposed to look like. So a place you know you are meant to understand, suddenly becomes unfamiliar and can make it even more frightening.

People with dementia experience this on a regular basis, particularly when going to hospital.
Because dementia patients can recall past events better than recent events, they will most likely be able to remember what hospitals used to look like, and as you know, hospitals have come a long way in the last 100 years.

With better and more technology, new processes and systems and even changes to uniforms, modern hospitals can be a very disorientating place for people living with dementia. The way a hospital is designed can also mean that it all looks the same. If they were to go to the bathroom they can easily get lost trying to find their way back. This is because hospital wards have a similar look throughout, as well as the fact that dementia can affect people’s ability to judge distance.

What can you do?

You may be wondering how you can improve your hospital in order to make it a dementia-
friendly environment. There are two simple ways to improve your patient experience: colour and memory lanes or replica villages. Here at KwickScreen, we want to make this as easy as possible by giving you a few handy tips.


A person living with dementia often struggles differentiating colours with the ability to see
certain colours reduced. This makes the world seem a little more uneasy resulting in anxiety
and a loss of confidence.

By using colours throughout your ward, you can attract or detract attention to certain areas
or items, making it easier for patients to navigate their way around.

High contrast

Using high contrasting colours, it can highlight things that are important. By making it clear for the person living with dementia, it will draw their attention to something that needs not to be missed. For example, food and drink stations help reduce the risk of dehydration and so can be made more obvious with a brightly coloured KwickScreen.

Red is a particularly good colour for identifying significant areas or items, as it is a good colour to enhance memory. Warm colours are also more stimulating than cool colours so are useful when highlighting an area.

At Kwickscreen, we can provide you with colourful screens to make areas clearer. Our portable screens allow areas of importance to be relocated and so reduce confusion amongst those living with dementia.

Low contrast

Alternatively, you may want to prevent residents being attracted to an area, such as staff rooms or cupboards. By using colours which match the background, you can reduce the number of incidents and confusion.

Our plain KwickScreens allow you to create a safer space as part of your dementia-friendly environment.

kwickscreen dementia_1.jpg

Memory lanes or Replica Villages

Memory lanes or replica villages are spaces that are designed to look like places used to be in the past. A study of dementia sufferers at Exeter University in 2009 found that reminiscing boosted memories by an average of 12%, meaning memory lanes or replica villages can be very
useful in helping boost memory of people living with dementia and older people.

They can also be very useful in supporting friends and family. Because some people with dementia can forget their family members, having something to talk about can make it easier for loved ones to maintain a conversation and build relationships.

How do you create a memory lane or replica village?

1. Understand

Understanding the average age of your residents and where they grew up can help you understand what they will remember most. By understanding what kind of world your residents lived in, you can tailor your space to ensure that your residents will get the most out of the memory lane.

2. Create

Once you have done your research and know what your trying to create, it will be easier to create your memory lane or replica village.

Firstly, you need to find a suitable location where your patients or residents can have space to walk or sit and enjoy activities. Next, you’ve got to decide on a background. This is important in order to create a recognisable space ready for people to go to. Here at KwickScreen, you can choose one from a range of our high quality artwork or you can choose to use your own photographs, in order to help you create the perfect printed background.

Backgrounds are perfect to draw attention to your space and encourage people to get involved. You should also consider what kind of activities you may want for people to get involved, as this can influence what the background will look like, ideas include, playing old fashioned games or having a market stall.

3. Interact

These lanes are perfect for creating conversations without constantly asking ‘do you remember this’. You can encourage staff and visitors to share the experience with the person living with dementia by linking it with activities for people to get involved with, or setting times of day to visit the memory lane. This gives everyone something to do, so even if your patient or resident doesn’t want to talk, they can take part in something and feel involved. It also can bring a sense of comfort to dementia patients when taking part in a familiar task, such as playing dominos or knitting.

We helped create a memory lane with the Order of St Johns Care Trust in Westbury Court Gloucestershire. Stephen Moore, the activities coordinator, said “We use KwickScreens as reminiscence backdrops for patients with dementia. The power of the image creates the memory of an environment that they are used to. We use a country kitchen for needlework, cookery and flower arranging sessions and a garden potting shed for gentleman’s skills, handyman and gardening workshops”.

4. Improve

As you use your memory lane, you may find that one thing works better than another. For example, board games encouraged conversations but the pub setting didn’t look like how they remembered.

With KwickScreens, the panels unzip so you can change the background quickly and easily to transform the space into something new. This also means that the cost is kept low because you are not having to consider completely redecorating a room, but still improving patient experience.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you with creating dementia-friendly environment for your patients.