It’s Not All About Signage – For Care and Dementia Homes
I’ve got to admit, when I’m creating meaningful environments in residential and dementia care homes, I often get lost. Not just in the creation of the project, but literally, in the corridors. Some corridors seem to travel round corners and link back onto themselves – Some have a number of short avenues leading off them, all looking quite similar. Many care homes have ‘wings’ which are physically the same and decorated in the similar colours, so it can be difficult to remember which corridor or area I’m working in. This often makes me think: How can a person who is living with dementia find their way around?
We know that many dementia care homes are providing colour fronted doors to help people recognise their own room. Some have installed wooden framed window memory boxes for residents and families to add personal photographs and recognisable artefacts to help a person identify his or her personal room. This is commendable of course, but how is the person to find the corridor in the first place?
I’m often asked about signage and this is why I’ve been spending some time considering, designing and installing attractive, interesting and meaningful signage to help people find their way around.
Of course, a residential home should feel as much ‘like home’ as possible to help residents feel comfortable and relaxed. Personally, I don’t really like to see garish signs screaming from the walls although we are encouraged to believe that bright primary coloured signage is helpful. Clear signage is helpful of course. Good contrast can make words and images ‘pop out’ and could seen or read more easily. The height of signage needs to be considered – normally signs would be fixed up high for us to look up and find our way – but for elderly people who may have lost height or have difficulty with mobility, looking up is not as natural – so consider using and average sight line as a guide for working out the ideal positioning for your residents.
So, what can we do to improve orientation ? When I’ve been getting confused in corridors and trapped in corners, I admit, a sign or image would have been beneficial. Consider naming corridors with local street names, town centre icons or village landmark, lake, promenade or park. A ‘picture’ word can add extra meaning to help a person remember: Church Road / Primrose Avenue – especially if the area colour scheme coordinates with the name. For example, using Spring colours; lemon, yellow, white, greens for Primrose Avenue.
Other ways to help orientation would be to add interest and meaning: A Bus Stop – Post Office – Shop Front Windows Mural and Street Signs. Interesting environments can also uplift care teams, relatives and visitors. See some examples of our work above and below or just click on signage on the website www.dementiaworkshop.co.uk – And just phone me any time – I’m always happy to chat through your requirements and offer advice. At Happy Days, we suit your budget, not ours. Looking forward to speaking with you, Gillian … Direct mobile: 07971-953620