Living with dementia can be devastatingly difficult. There are currently over 1 million dementia patients in the UK alone, with a further 44 million worldwide, making the disease one of the largest global health crises of our time.
Medical environments such as hospitals and care homes can be stressful and disorientating for patients with dementia. Not just because they are unfamiliar, but because often, everything looks the same.
A study by the Alzheimer’s Society found that 92% of people said that the person they knew admitted with dementia found hospital environments frightening, and 90% of people said that the person with dementia they knew became more confused while in hospital.
With 25% of acute beds occupied by people living with dementia, it is crucial that resources are put towards making hospital environments as comfortable and stress-free as possible for dementia sufferers.
Making changes to the physical environment of hospitals can reduce distress, improve patient wellbeing, enable better way finding, and reduce costs overall. Here are some simple changes you can implement in your hospital that can make a big difference.
A person living with dementia often struggles differentiating colours, as their ability to see certain tones is often reduced. Dementia may also affect how individuals see objects in 3D. By replacing bland or neutral colours throughout your elderly care wards, for things like furniture and floor or wall markings, you can attract or detract attention to certain areas or items, making it easier for patients to navigate their way around. For example using bright blocks of colour to highlight the way to bathrooms, or food and drinks stations.
Red, green and blue have been reported to be particularly good colours for identifying significant areas or items. Warm colours are also more stimulating than cool colours so are useful when highlighting an area.
IMAGERY TO EVOKE MEMORIES
Using imagery to stimulate nostalgia and evoke memories can be a highly effective way to engage dementia patients. During a study in 2009, Exeter University found that using imagery of this kind boosted memories by an average of 12%. Dementia patients recall events of the past better than recent events, and using imagery such as recognisable locations from the past, historic events, or even just recreating spaces such as living rooms and places patients would feel safe can be highly effective.
Using reminiscence imagery can also be helpful in supporting family and friends of patients. This gives them something to talk about, maintain conversations and build relationships, particularly in cases where the patient has lost recognition of friends and family.
For an example of this in use, 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”.
KwickScreen can help you create dementia friendly environments, have a look at the seasonal and dementia sections of our image catalogue for examples of artwork we can print to help dementia patients by prompting memories and encouraging socialising. Our screens can be used as reminiscence backdrops, with the inner panels able to zip in and out so different scenes can be used seasonally or for different environment setups. Get in touch today to see how we could help.
Together we can solve issues facing dementia patients and their families, and make hospitals and care environments places that patients feel safe and welcome.