Themed Rooms! Artful Products for Dementia Environmental Design.
Conversation pieces for Activities, Quiet Rooms and atmospheric Community Design
In Dementia Training Australia’s podcast, ‘Dementia in Practice’, Jason Burton, a dementia consultant for 30 years, says, “Institutions struggle with individuality… The essence of person-centered care is a philosophy that everyone is an individual. Yet we are still quite institutional in our approach… our systems, environments, staffing and training that tend to lean towards institutional care compared to individual care… If we don’t address the reason for their behaviour, then the nurses will be back onto the doctors saying Mrs So and So is doing it again… (so) the multi-disciplinary approach is definitely better.’
Jason explains how bringing meaningful activity can give a person purpose and that many stresses are caused by boredom. According to Jason, many people on hearing a diagnosis of dementia have said, ‘I would rather die than go into Residential Aged Care… due to a loss of autonomy, a loss of community and friends and boredom… (Yet) Bringing meaningful activity for me may not be meaningful to you… We (staff) spend a lot of time in passive engagement because the environments are not set up well for it, and so the more we can do for that, the better the engagement.”
We like Jason’s words: ”Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.” By design, we have to carefully add a homey vibe, but not just anything from any cheap printer. Because, ementia is an umbrella term for cognitive impairment. As such, the 150+ brain diseases we call dementia, are varied each with its own suite of physical symptoms that create different reactions to the environment. Dementia affects time, place and people perception and memory. It also affects visuospatial perception. So, understanding how people living with dementia perceive a space is vital to know what to do to improve it. Therefore, we give you Cafe Vibes, Glass Mosaic Waterwalls and Murals, Ceiling Murals and Bus Stops or Fenced Park Nooks. We will work with you and your dementia expert too, to get the psychology just right.
Beautiful designs that turn interior dining rooms into patios with views
Rooms lacking a defined purpose become dumping grounds for odds and ends. Recently at a Brisbane residence, we instantly identified three rooms where furniture and accessories were ill-matched matched to the architectural finishes – and their purpose. Our works create atmospheric clarification of such spaces. Simultaneously addressing community engagement, friends, meaningfulness, boredom and person-centred care. Like the Brisbane home, common issues we find are:
1. A ”quiet room” confused by unused kitchen facilities
2. A kitchenette beside a noisy lounge not set up for meaningful cooking and,
3. The ideal craft rooms looking onto gardens that are bare or cluttered
Is this you?
Cafe Vibe murals are designed with you to express your dining rooms function an create atmosphere relevant to your demographic. As Eloy van Hal, founder of De Hogeweyk has said in Shaping Dementia Environments podcast: it’s not about the building – it’s the artworks, interior decorating, music, good food (expressing) culture that creates a home. Cafe Vibes use art, painted by us over a 16 year period, to help providers institutionalize.
See Cafe Vibes for better community design
Glass Mosaic Murals and Waterwalls
Multi-sensory environmental design with Art and Water
Have you heard about the 1960’s Enriched Environments for Rats Experiment? It relates to racetracks and their landmark cues along the way. In The Dementia Podcast, Talking Design, Part Two, Professor Colm Cunningham (Hammond Care & University of Sydney) converses with Professor Mary Marshall, (OBE, Professor Emeritus at the University of Stirling), who tells us about the history of environmental design for dementia. In particular, racetracks – which Colm describes as “a continuous loop that has no meaning, purpose or stop… ” that Mary says was outdated the day they came out… creating this horrible pacing… which is quite difficult for people with dementia… with diminishing sight… hearing and painful joints… struggling to make sense of what they are living in…’
In The Rat Experiment, noted in ‘Your Brain On Art: How the Arts Transform Us’ Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross tell us how, in the 1960’s Neuroscientist Marian Diamond, now regarded as one of the founders of modern neuroscience, believed in neuroplasticity. She proved it by placing cohorts of rats in three different environments:
1. ‘An Enriched Environment including toys, textures, and objects to explore and play on and changed regularly to promote novelty and surprise…
2. A ‘Standard Environment” with a basic exercise wheel i.e. a racetrack, where nothing changed…
3. An “Impoverished” space, devoid of exploratory objects or stimulation i.e our documents cover photo
After six weeks, Marian dissected the rat brains and discovered that the cerebral cortex (outer layer of the brain) of the enriched group had increased in thickness by 6%, compared to those from the impoverished group, which had lost brain mass. This was the first time that anyone had seen a structural change in an animal’s brain due to different kinds of environmental experiences.’
So, imagine what impoverished or standard design does for people living with dementia in facilities purposefully devoid of any stimulation to protect them from what Mary calls, “becoming victims of poor design.” Overstimulation is an issue yet, research also shows neutral space, landmarks for wayfinding, colour, beauty, a view and awe are all important for a sense of well-being. Balance comes from strategically placing imagery to solve problems with subject matters relevant to the home’s location to imbue lifestyle and culture. Our products like Mosaic Murals that are ideal as waterwalls for beautiful and sensory experiences, draw people out of their rooms to avoid depression and then, ease their stresses, anger, and frustrations simply by providing memorable landmarks.
See Mosaic Mural landmarks for Waterwall Sensory Experiences
The Age-old Beauty of Art on Ceilings for Spaces of Relaxation and Daydreaming
Research shows that bringing the colours, shapes, and wonder of nature into Residential Aged Care Homes is important for everyone’s well-being. Since 2000, psychologists researching the emotion of awe, now understand why we feel it, and how it inspires a sense of belonging and survival. According to their research, awe increases our sense of community by helping us to realize that we are part of something greater than ourselves.
As such, in the white paper, prepared for the John Templeton Foundation by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley (2018), Summer Allen, Ph.D. writes: ”A number of empirical studies have explored the types of situations that can elicit awe. For example, studies have found that natural scenes are frequent awe elicitors, that stimuli do not need to be physically large to elicit awe, and that recalling spiritual and religious experiences can evoke feelings of awe. ”
Therefore murals in Aged Care environmental design, done right, can engage the same feelings of awe resulting in the same physiological benefits: the stimulation of positive endorphins that in turn release dopamine which lifts their spirits – even in palliative care. Book a Free Discovery Call and let’s chat.
See Ceiling Murals for everyday Awe Experiences
Bus Stops OR Fenced Park Nooks
Transforms the right space into a delightful place of escape
Why Photos are WORSE than Art for Home-like dementia design. Art is the expression of design, architecture, soul, and culture. Life without art feels coldly commercial. People need connections to warmth, colour, and textures that art can deliver- in meaningful ways. Thanks to printers’ low-cost access to license photos, illustrations, and vector graphics, it’s been easier than ever for Interior Designers to apply super graphics in Aged Care environments. Were Aged Care environments schools, this might be fine. However, they are not- they are homes. Our homes are not filled with photographic murals and those that are, are regarded as tacky or kitsch. Because these images do not feel home-like.
By contrast, art is better than photographic and vector murals for people living with dementia in Memory Support Units because art delivers:
– textures to bring warmth into the space
– styles for a diversity of cultural reminiscence, architectural and interior decor expression
– beauty, and wonder. Wonder and Awe are powerful emotions tied to gratitude that release positive endorphins and dopamine to ease depression
For those spaces like oversized exit and entry points, unused hallway nooks, outdoor areas that seem lost, etc, a Bus Stop or Fenced Park Nook Mural may be the solution. People with dementia are not stupid – they just need help with defining the space. A Bus Stop in a space that seems like a street, may work very well. Alternatively, without any signage, but keeping our fences and walls for safety to express to a person, “You can see there but not go there”, stops them from walking into a mural and having a fall. Simply put, these products for environmental design give people a place to go and spend time with a sense of peace.
We also arrange park bench seats with commemorative plaques as a lovely gift idea for families to honour a loved one and show appreciation for staff and community.
Contact us for more.
See Bus Stops or Fenced Park Nook ideas for commemorative gifts
Light creating Health Art for Quiet Rooms
The Manager of an Aged Care home in SA is aiming to slowly install a full suite of dementia-enabling enhancements for her deserving staff, residents, and their families- including this Glass Mural for a Quiet Room. One of the problems she asked us to solve were ways to entice people living with dementia into the interior courtyard. People living with dementia can feel agitated by too much noise from loud TVs, music, other residents, staff, families, etc. We have all been in the hospital and felt annoyed at the constant intrusions and noise levels. It’s stress that is exacerbated in Memory Support Units because a person’s cognitive impairment makes it harder for them to rationalize the noise and calm themselves. This mural on the glass works in two ways.
From the outside, it adds Eden Philosophy – a sense of nature, space, and escape. Residents will perceive the forest as a space they can walk into through the doors. Then, once inside, they see the forest around them – as if standing in a clearing. We all love that sensation. The new quiet room would be made more realistic by painting the floor moss green. Because green is a colour that appears to recede, thus creating a greater sense of space and calm. Culturally, green signifies nature.
Whatever you need, we most likely have a solution and the products to help you. For Aged Care and Health Care providers, we can install products like these across facilities Australian-wide. Contact us to receive our full catalogue.