When The Abbeyfield Society set out to create a truly innovative dementia care facility, they needed everyone in the supply chain to offer equally innovative products. We were invited to create dementia signage for the project, having met the organisation’s head of development at the Stirling Dementia Design School in 2015.
Having completed the Stirling Dementia Design School training and conducted research of our own, we had a good understanding of the key areas that we needed to integrate into our dementia signage designs, as well as the bespoke objectives of the client.
This included having an appropriate Light Reflectance Value (LRV) differential between the sign and any background; high contrast between the background colour of the sign and any text or graphics; providing both words and images to aid communication; positioning the signs at a lower level than you would expect elsewhere (due to the stooping gait that often characterises dementia); and making any images representative of what you will find in the room. We commissioned an artist to produce the illustrations used for the icons: it was important to us (and the client) that the signs were aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.
Understanding the value of familiar objects, we also supplied memory boxes to help with wayfinding in corridors and communal spaces. Directional signage and street signs were also used.
The care home at Winnersh truly is state of the art, incorporating the latest thinking on dementia care. All rooms lead to a garden or patio, doors are colour coded (with bedroom doors styled like a house front door) and the circular design of the building eradicates dead ends and confusing corridors. Our door signage, directional signs, steet signs and memory boxes are used throughout. (See a write up in the Express about it here).
April Dobson, head of dementia innovation at The Abbeyfield Society spoke of our involvement in the project:
“The signage is a departure from the old fashioned type of signage usually seen in dementia care homes and follows thinking from the Stirling University Centre for Dementia Studies that signs should enable people to see exactly what is in the room they’re going into. Tony specified a ‘hinged’ sign that opens up to allow you to put a photograph of the room inside (and to change it if the appearance of the room alters!). Each sign also has the name of the room in letters and in Braille. The signs are proving very successful with orientation and provide a cost effective way for us to keep the signage current.”
“The signage is a departure from the old fashioned type of signage usually seen in dementia care homes and follows thinking from the Stirling University Centre for Dementia Studies.”