Dementia-friendly design can make a real difference in improving the quality of life for thousands of residents in care settings living with dementia. At danfloor we keep abreast of the recommendations when it comes to colour and design, especially in relation to dementia flooring, and we have created a selection of carpets that have been accredited by Stirling Universities DSDC as being suitable for use within dementia inclusive environments.
As a result of our knowledge in this area, we believe there are 5 important considerations when it comes to dementia flooring.
1.Light Reflectance Values
Light Reflectance Value (LRV), is a measure of the percentage of visible and usable light that is reflected from a surface when illuminated by a light source. LRV’s are particularly important when designing interiors that are suitable for the disabled and for those who are visually impaired. Certain surfaces and features are required to contrast visually within their surroundings to aid navigation and equating colour with an LRV makes this achievable.
Current guidance and Code of Practice BS 8300:2009 states that adequate visual contrast is provided if the LRV of the contrasting areas differ by at least 30 points. Considered use of colour can significantly improve a visually impaired person’s way-finding ability. It can create pathways, identify obstacles and define volume and space helping to make the physical environment safer and easier to use.
On the other hand, if you want to minimise the visual contrast between two flooring finishes, for example, the carpet in the bedroom and the vinyl in the ensuite, the LRV of the two flooring colours plus any joining strip should be within an 8 point difference. To someone who is visually impaired or living with cognitive impairment as a result of dementia, they will tend to see colours within an 8 point difference as the same tone and this will ease the transition from one area to another.
When it comes to dementia flooring It's also important not to use shiny or highly reflective flooring surfaces. To someone who is visually impaired or living with dementia, this type of surface can appear wet or slippery and pose a slip or fall hazard.
The majority of danfloor's carpets have been tested for their LRV value to make the design process easier and to benefit dementia inclusive environments. Please refer to our Guide on LRV's for further information.
2.Indoor Air Quality
When it comes to flooring within the care sector It’s not just infection control that should be considered but indoor air quality, especially if you have residents living with breathing difficulties.
Throughout the last 10 years, there have been numerous studies into the use of carpet versus hard floor surfaces and what effect these two flooring solutions have on air quality. Fine dust can present a significant health hazard, especially for allergy sufferers, as particles may irritate the airway when they are breathed in and enter the respiratory tract.
Many of the studies suggest that carpet retains dust particles, unlike hard surfaces where they regularly become airborne. If carpets are regularly vacuumed these particles, and allergens that are bound within the carpet fibres, are removed from the room without causing discomfort.
Within healthcare facilities, corridors and communal areas can be very busy places at all times of day and night. The presence of carpet in such areas helps to absorb unwanted sound and reduce sound reverberation time. This is very important for people who experience difficulty with hearing and for those with dementia as it makes it easier to filter out unwanted noises and helps to reduce stress and confusion.
Carpet has a unique ability to reduce sound impact levels, no other acoustical material performs the dual role of a floor covering and a versatile acoustical aid. Research suggests that a carpet is 10 times more efficient in reducing noise compared to other flooring options.
4.Avoiding trips and falls
Studies have shown that carpet when compared with vinyl, can reduce injuries caused by trips and falls. It has also been proven that gait speed and step length is greater in older people walking on carpeted areas than when walking on vinyl.
The Equinox and Economix ranges have been designed to facilitate and withstand impact from walking aids and with regular cleaning and maintenance schedules, the carpets will not lose their appearance over time.
5.Home from Home feeling
Healthcare facilities, especially care homes are trying to move away from an institutional look and feel to create a more homely atmosphere. Therefore when considering your dementia flooring options it's essential to have carpet wherever possible. The Equinox and Economix ranges provide a subtle colour bank which helps designers to specify various room scenes and create a domestic environment. In addition to colour, the texture of carpet within care facilities is important and should be relatively flat to allow for shuffling and the use of walking aids, wheelchairs and trolleys.
Guidance from the University of Stirling's DSDC suggests that carpet should be laid in bedrooms of care homes and advises that vinyl should not be laid in bedrooms unless necessary.
For more information about our range of healthcare carpets and their suitability for use within Dementia inclusive environments visit our Healthcare Carpet page. Alternatively, download our Design for Dementia Guide.