Designing dementia rooms of the future

3 minute(s) to read

When Alzheimers New Zealand and the University of Auckland released their Dementia Economic Impact Report in September last year it made for sober reading.  Almost three percent of all New Zealanders will have dementia by 2050 and for those over 65 this increases to 10 percent, presenting an ongoing challenge for Aged Care facilities.

Partnering with some of our world-leading European suppliers has been a game changer for Cubro in driving the search for the latest innovations in this area.

“In the past when looking at dementia care rooms, we have tended to focus making sure residents are comfortable in a room that is homely and familiar. However it’s the emergence of dementia designed furniture that has really excited our team, because it has the potential to improve the standard of care for residents with dementia, and make life easier for care teams.” explains says Ashley.

“At the moment there is so much pressure on Aged Care workers and their teams.  We feel there is a pressing need to provide solutions that makes their work easier and safer, especially when it comes to residents with complex needs such as dementia,” explains Cubro's Ashley Currie. 
Here are some key features to look for when choosing furniture for dementia residents:
Choose furniture that maximises safety

A resident’s safety is always paramount, but this is even more important when it comes to caring for residents with dementia who can be prone to fall or fall related injuries.  

Residents can hurt themselves on sharp corners so look for furniture that has smooth, rounded edges. Rounded corners can also be used as mobilisation aids, helping those who have difficulty orientating themselves.

Choose adjustable shelving in wardrobes so they can be easily configured for a resident. Keep the height range between 1m and 1.7m to reduce the need for the resident to bend down or reach up which can make them off balance and lead to a fall.    

Furniture that aids decision making

The more independent the dementia resident is then the less strain it creates on carers. Look for solutions that creates less clutter and limits confusion.  Combined with clear panels and safety glass, the use of lighting in wardrobes is also encouraged as it creates added visibility for the resident, while lockable doors on a side of a wardrobe encourages less clutter. Minimise clothing options that a resident can see in a wardrobe.  This makes it easier for them to see what to wear. 

The importance of colour and light  

Residents with dementia can have difficulty distinguishing between tones, shapes and patterns. However colour can be used as a positive, assisting residents with wayfinding. Two tone furniture with a darker outside colour can help residents identify where the edges are on beds and cabinets. Combined with clear panels and safety glass, the use of skylights at the top of wardrobes is also encouraged as creates added visibility for the resident.

Consider equipment that promotes safe moving and handling

Overhead lifting solutions are the most effective and safe way to lift and move an individual. Mounting all the lifting equipment at ceiling height frees up floor space and makes it much easier to get around for both the resident and the carer. For those dementia patients who are prone to agitation, overhead lifting means their transfers are constructed in a safe and dignified manner and with less physical strain on the carer.