Renovating Care Homes with Dementia Residents in Mind

  18 July, 2019      Industry Insights
Renovating Care Homes with Dementia Residents in Mind

With over 421,000 people in the UK staying in residential care, it’s important that there are residential properties that meet the necessary standards. The challenges of meeting these standards are all too real for many care homes but through our extensive experience and proven techniques we are able to work with them and achieve compliance.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. They carry out inspections to make sure the services provided are safe, effective and compassionate. Therefore, the premises where residents live and receive care must be clean, secure and well-looked after.

The CQC’s latest ratings show that there is still room for improvement within our care home system in the UK. Just under a third (31%) of care homes inspected have been rated as ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

With reports indicating that 190,000 new care home places will be needed by 2020, it’s important that property owners are aware of how to effectively specify and manage any renovations that are required, the key considerations when carrying out the work and how to appoint the right contractor.

What considerations do care home owners need to have?

With over 850,000 people in the UK[1] living with dementia, and there being no signs of it decreasing, there is a higher demand for care homes that support dementia sufferers.

Dementia is now one of the main causes of disability in later life and having this condition can be extremely confusing and frightening, as well as being challenging for family members. Care home residents require functional spaces that create a sense of calm, reducing any unnecessary agitation. Just navigating round a room can be difficult and disorientating for someone living with the condition.

Where can improvements be made in care homes?

With every care home renovation project the two main things we consider are the residents’ safety and their well-being. With dementia patients, a key consideration is improving how easily residents can navigate through their home.

Safety

Dementia can have a negative effect on someone’s safety. They can be confused about using appliances, changes in their routine, experience physical difficulties and memory issues, such as remembering to turn things off.

When renovating a care home, it’s important to consider all aspects of safety. We replace doors, add handrails and carry out electrical rewiring, especially to make sure the fire separation between floors and walls and corridors is in place and fire alarms work.

We work hard to create an accessible and user-friendly environment, replacing electrical sliding doors and motion sensors throughout the care home.

Navigation

People living with dementia, can experience a severe decline in navigational skills.

Labelling and clear signage can help avoid residents feeling lost. Simply worded signs or pictures can be placed on or around the doors of essential rooms, such as the bathroom, living area and bedroom.

The use of different colours per corridor can be used to help dementia sufferers recognise which floor they are on.

The use of colour and contrast can be really helpful and using block colours, however, avoiding heavily patterned wallpaper. We can work with our suppliers to select dementia friendly colour schemes, with colours discussed and sometimes chosen by the residents.

Well-being

Residents can spend a lot of time indoors due to mobility issues, so care homes should feel open with lots of natural light. We remodel communal areas and move rooms around to ensure the spaces created, suits the needs of its residents. We can even create beautiful orangeries so that residents can enjoy watching the wildlife in the gardens.

As part of renovation works, we can also landscape open spaces and gardens and repair walkways to ensure they are safe for all residents. Our social value has also led us to projects that have required us to refurb worn and tired benches so that residents can still enjoy an outdoor seating area.

Health and safety is a big priority throughout the delivery of a care home project. Workers at Novus are all DBS cleared and trained in customer care, equality, diversity and dementia. It’s a sensitive environment to work in.

Ensuring our care home renovations create minimal disruption

When renovating a care home, it is of upmost importance to keep resident disruption to a minimum. Residents with dementia may have additional support requirements, including the need to maintain their own routine and we work sensitively around this, maintaining occupation of their rooms if at all possible, whilst maintaining a safe environment.

At the start of a project, we ensure all residents and Scheme Managers are fully informed about the work that will be carried out. A Resident Liaison Officer (RLO) supports the work on site and ensures effective communication between the site team, residents and the care home staff, throughout the project.

We begin each major renovation project by launching a welcome meeting, where the project team gets introduced to all the residents. In the introduction they will provide an explanation of the planned work, and answer any queries residents may have. Following this, the RLO will post letters that informs residents of any project updates, which can also be posted on communal boards.

Weekly meetings can be organised to discuss the status of the work and health and safety updates to ensure residents are fully informed throughout.

Corridor monitors can be put in place to manage and monitor the movement of residents. These monitors are a great way to prevent residents from coming into contact with live working areas, especially for those residents who suffer with dementia who may get confused easily.

We always want to walk away from our renovation projects, knowing we have made a positive impact on the residents’ lives. To avoid disruption, such as the removal of scaffolding, one example from previous projects included the RLO arranging to take the residents out to a local fish shop. To find out more about this, read our Riverside Housing case study.

We also try to obtain valuable feedback from residents. At our Willowcroft refurbishment, we hosted a coffee morning and Bingo game in order to obtain feedback, whilst also offering the opportunity for residents to socialise. By obtaining this feedback it allows us to get to grips with the positive and maybe not so positive aspects of the project in order for us to leave with a confident, lasting impression.

If you own a care home and are looking for a service that can provide highly effective refurbishments, transforming your facilities and improving the standards of living, find out more about how we can help here.

[1] https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-us/news-and-media/facts-media

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