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Dementia Friendly Environment Checklist

May 8th, 2024

A dementia friendly environment is a space that is designed to be safe, accessible, and supportive for individuals with dementia. Making surroundings dementia-friendly helps those living with dementia to remain as independent as possible and also supports caregivers. You can create a dementia friendly environment at home if you’re a home carer using a dementia friendly environment checklist as guidance. You can also take it with you when viewing residential dementia care homes to see how they stack up against your loved one’s needs.  

The Importance Of Dementia Friendly Environments

people discussing dementia friendly environments in  care home

There are many things to factor into dementia care. As well as looking after personal care needs, such as washing and dressing, creating a space that supports people living with dementia is incredibly important. Dementia can bring with it many symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, and irritability. A dementia-friendly environment is designed to minimise any negative effects from these symptoms, such as wandering or anxiety. The overall aim is to promote independence, safety, and wellbeing for individuals living with dementia, and encourage a sense of belonging and dignity.

Creating A Dementia Friendly Environment 

When creating dementia friendly environments, there are some key elements to consider. These include:

  • Safety & security – making sure that someone living with dementia is safe at all times is a top priority. This can mean installing aids and adaptations, such as handrails, and making sure doors are kept locked. Preventing accidents, falls, and episodes of wandering can help individuals with dementia feel more comfortable and confident in their surroundings
  • Accessibility – dementia-friendly environments should be easy to navigate and have accessible spaces. These can mean interiors with zoned areas and clear signage throughout. Making it easier for individuals with dementia to move around can help reduce confusion and anxiety, and foster a sense of independence 
  • Comfort – familiar objects, colours, and textures can provide a sense of comfort and reassurance for anyone living with dementia. Familiarity can help reduce feelings of confusion and agitation, promoting a sense of wellbeing. Personalising a care home bedroom is one way to enhance comfort and familiarity 
  • Carers – if you’re looking after an elderly parent, improving your knowledge around dementia and what your loved one needs can make things easier for you as a carer, and improve quality of life for your family member. Staff working in dementia friendly environments should receive ongoing training in dementia care, including communication techniques, behaviour management strategies, and how to promote independence and autonomy
  • Socialisation – regular social interaction can help to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation in people living with dementia. Group activities, magic tables, and intergenerational mixing can help to develop connections and promote cognitive function for a positive and stimulating dementia friendly environment

Dementia Friendly Environment Checklist 

woman thinking about her dementia friendly environment checklist

If you’re creating a dementia friendly environment and want to ensure that the above points are covered, then this dementia friendly environment checklist can help you design a positive and productive space:

Quiet spaces

As people living with dementia can get anxious or confused, making sure there is a quiet area for them to go to can help them to wind down. This could be something as simple as a small room with dim lighting, comfortable chairs, and minimal decoration.

Signage

Dementia friendly environments need adequate signage that allows residents to navigate the space easily. Signs should be clear and bold, with no abstract images or icons that are hard to understand. Ideally, they should be well-lit, placed at eye level and fixed to any doors they are relevant to. Toilets, exits and glass doors should be clearly signposted too. 

Flooring

Floors in a dementia friendly environment should be non-slip and free of tripping hazards. Plain surfaces are better, as opposed to patterns or bright colours, and highly reflective surfaces are best avoided, as reflections can create confusion. 

Changing Rooms 

Having designated areas to get changed in can reduce any embarrassment for those living with dementia, when they need help with personal care. Having toilet seats that are a different colour to the walls aids anyone with sight problems, and there should be ‘way out’ signs above doors for clarity. 

Seating 

Seating in a dementia friendly environment should ideally be traditional in style. Abstract or concept style furniture can be confusing for anyone living with dementia, so include sofas and chairs that are comfortable and obvious. Communal spaces with plenty of seating can also support social interaction for those living with dementia. 

Navigation 

Research has shown that people who live with dementia often use ‘landmarks’ as a way to navigate their surroundings. Landmarks are unique and prominent objects that prompt a response and, along with signage, help with orientation. A dementia friendly environment checklist should include landmarks such as paintings, plants or sculptures, especially placed at decision-making points, including corners or doorways.

Residential Dementia Care At New Care Homes 

Implementing helpful design features that contribute to a dementia friendly environment is essential to improve the overall quality of life for those living with dementia. It also supports caregivers in providing safe, compassionate and person-centred care. At New Care Homes, we have dedicated dementia staff in our residential dementia care homes, and have designed the living experience around the needs of individuals living with dementia. Creating dementia friendly environments is part of the work we do to make residents feel safe, secure and comfortable. To ask more about our care services, or to visit one of our locations, please contact us.