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The importance of interiors in dementia care

Resident room with light blue and yellow walls

Long-term care homes cater for a broad spectrum of individuals.  For some, this means providing a space in which to deliver high-level nursing or even end of life care.  For others, it means creating an environment that promotes independent living, within the safety net of a supportive care community.  For most, it’s something in between.

All care homes, however, have the same duty of care to their staff, their residents and indeed, the families of those residents – and that is to provide a safe environment that promotes quality of life as well as quality of care.  This means that care homes, more than any other medical setting, must tread a very fine line between function and aesthetic.  

Aesthetics take on additional importance when we consider that residents and their families may visit a number of care homes in a bid to find the place where they feel most comfortable.

Home from home

When choosing a care home, appearance and atmosphere have a huge role in the decision-making process.  The majority of people moving into a care home are stepping up from independent living, so it’s understandable that they seek a similar level of comfort and privacy as well as a ‘home from home’ feel.

But care home interiors don’t just impact on perceptions.  We’ve previously written about the importance of hospital environments when it comes to healing and recovery, and much of this same ethos can also be applied to care home interiors.  

Care homes are often concerned with looking after people who are physically impaired or frail, and therefore it’s essential that they are equipped with all the safety features required to facilitate this care in an effective and dignified manner.  This may include all kinds of fixtures and fittings, including patient privacy, wall protection, and appropriate washroom accessories.

But many care homes also care for people with cognitive impairment or dementia – in fact, this is a leading driver for admission to a care home facility. Various bodies of research have identified that these groups of people have specific environmental needs that can directly impact on their quality of life, particularly when it comes to place attachment theory, which centres on the factors contributing to a ‘sense of home’.

Design & dementia

All people, whether or not they have dementia, need to be able to understand where they live, and to form an attachment to that place based on a range of factors including emotional acceptance, social factors and the built environment.  For residents, moving into a care home is a major life event often characterised by unwillingness to leave their previous residence.  These feelings are compounded if the care home environment does not resemble a home.  Therefore, it’s vital that care homes take steps wherever possible to prevent their interiors from resembling a hospital or an institution.

Architectural design plays an important role in achieving this objective, but interior design and fit-out has arguably an even greater impact.  Selecting interior products that blend successfully into a homey environment is a powerful way that care home owners and managers can provide residents with sensory cues to make sense of their new environment and promote attachment to that environment.  Research shows that this can reduce anxiety, confusion and the need for pharmaceuticals in the care of dementia patients.

At Belroc, we have decades of expertise working with architects, designers and facility managers to support the creation of care home interiors that function effortlessly for the health and wellbeing of staff and residents while also providing a comfortable, domestic look and feel that helps residents and visitors to feel at home.  

With a specialized focus on patient privacy, wall protection, and appropriate washroom accessories, we’ve helped care homes right across Canada to create interior spaces that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are practical.  If you’re planning a new care home project or an upgrade of your existing interiors, we’d love to discuss your requirements.  Contact Owen Lawrenson – – to arrange a consultation.