At night, with the lights off we would all have a good crack at navigating our homes. We would know roughly where light switches were and where the creaky floorboards are.
Entering a new care home can be very unfamiliar to residents and even a little confusing. It is important to get them as comfortable and orientated as possible. Especially those with dementia our ability to navigate decreases with age and each new day can cause new levels of confusion as memories of yesterday quickly disappear.
Every new build or refurbishment design we work on we take these factors into consideration.
It is important to validate and show empathy to new residents who will find changes of scenery confusing and sometimes even a little scary. Using this empathy, we can create more familiar and happy environments.
Wayfinding is essential in corridors. They link rooms and spaces together and long corridors can be a struggle so we like to keep movement from one space to another an efficiently and considered as possible without causing undue stress and anxiety. We like to add sensory prompts at key spaces to show the resident where they are and to make them feel welcome. This may be a piece of artwork to define somewhere to each or a plant to highlight somewhere relaxing. A memory box outside a resident’s room with objects they may recognize is a sensory prompt to let them know that they are at their room. Corridors serve as a guide but must also feel welcoming and reassuring to use and navigate.
Have you ever been in one of those chain hotels and forgotten where your room is. All the doors are identical – as well as carpets, wall paint. One corridor looks the same as another, it is confusing. Now, imagine how a care home residents must feel if they were put in the same situation.
Uniformity is out and differing styles are in. These differences provide big prompts of where the resident is. Signage and good visual ques can really help.
As we said before corridors need to be inviting and not intimidating to pass through. Good lighting and regular activity stations along the way can make these routes more appealing and sociable.
These subtle nudges in care home wayfinding are the way we like to work, ensuring access to and from areas are enjoyable and safe as possible.