This week is Dementia Awareness Week: a national campaign that encourages people to talk about dementia. We thought this would be an appropriate time to recap how we became involved with dementia care and what we’re trying to do as a company.
You may wonder how on earth does a signage company become involved with dementia friendly products? After all, it’s not the most obvious of transitions and it’s certainly not something we could have envisaged ourselves doing 10 years ago. You could say the catalyst for us getting involved started with the national focus on providing better dementia care and organisations like The King’s Fund providing funding and support for the creation of dementia friendly environments in healthcare. This recognition that people living with dementia could not be placed in the same kind of hospital ward as someone who had suffered a heart attack or had cancer was very important because environment plays such a vital role in the recovery and treatment of a patient with conditions like dementia.
Much research was conducted and it was concluded that design and visual arts could influence patient behaviour in a positive way. The easiest way to get artwork and imagery into any kind of space is to decorate the walls but you can’t just hang pictures in a hospital due to hygiene and health & safety so how do you do it? Wall murals and professional graphic display systems are the best solution and who knows better how to create those than a signage company?!
We were approached by a designer in 2010 that we had worked with previously, who was involved in a dementia ward project at Bradford Royal Infirmary, to see whether we could create some wall murals that would fit the brief. Of course, we felt that we could and became involved but it didn’t stop there. Working with the designer and researching theories on dementia care and the value of visual stimuli, we came up with concepts for other dementia friendly products. We created dementia friendly image boards, memory boxes and Kodak-style digital slide displays. This project went on to win the Building Better Healthcare award for Interior Design and we opened our eyes to an opportunity to not only create a new direction for the business but to make a contribution to dementia care and improve the quality of life for those with dementia spending time in hospital or in a care home setting.
Since then we have used our skills as sign writers, and developed new ones as well, to create other dementia friendly products including digital fish tanks, retro TV displays, dementia friendly signage, reminisce rooms and reversible mirrors. We’re working on new ones and developing these products further all the time. Most of these products are unique to us.
We appreciate that we were lucky to have become involved when we did; a chance enquiry from someone we’d worked with who happened to be involved with a dementia project that set in motion a chain of events that changed our business significantly. We’re very proud to be working in this field and to be one of the first signage companies to be involved in dementia care. We’ve obviously undertaken a significant amount of research and development in the area and this has demonstrated to us the importance in treating people with this disease well and providing the means for them to remain calm, to be reassured and to be stimulated, because it’s better for their health, their well-being and their state of mind.
While we would never position ourselves as experts in the field of dementia care, we certainly feel that we can add a lot of value for anyone looking to create a dementia friendly environment and we’re happy to offer advice and guidance as well as supply the dementia-friendly products themselves. If we can offer you the benefit of our experience please call Tony Stead, our dementia lead, on 01274 728831 or send us a message.