SCIE media release

Dementia-friendly care environments - two Social Care TV films

10 July 2013

Sometimes people with dementia see the world differently than others. Everyday things can be confusing; for instance, a rug can look like a hole. It can be a challenging and frightening world.

To address this, two new films are launched today showing how simple changes can create more dementia-friendly environments. They appear for the first time today on Social Care TV, and will be introduced at the National Housing Federation Care and Support Conference in Manchester.

The first film looks at the dementia environment at home; the second focuses on care homes. Simple changes to the home - and care home - environment can make a big difference. They can have a positive impact on a person living with dementia, especially when supporting emotional wellbeing and independence. For instance, the use of colour and contrast can be really helpful for people with dementia, but heavily patterned wallpaper and fabric should be avoided.

Suzy Webster is a carer for her Mum, who is 66 and lives with dementia. She works for Age UK and the Care Quality Commission as an "expert-by-experience". Suzy has watched the films and says:

These films positively show that care homes and home care staff can arrange the environment to benefit those who live with dementia. It's great to see the care home featured using the outside space for gardening, walking safely around and encouraging the stimulation of all the senses. These positive films give practical guidance which can be often hard to find. They will be helpful for people like me who live with someone who has dementia; we often want our loved one to be at home with us for as long as possible. I found the key learning points at the end of both films particularly helpful.

SCIE's Chief Executive Andrea Sutcliffe says:

I would encourage everyone who lives with, or cares for someone with dementia, to watch these films. They are full of practical tips about lighting, wallpaper, gardens, signage and so much more. Care staff and managers can see how thinking carefully about the physical environment can help them provide a better service. Family carers can also see how simple changes can help to make life easier. Above all, people with dementia can have a better quality of life when some of these changes are made. We may not have paid enough attention in the past to the importance of the physical environment for people with dementia - it is time we did now and these films show how.

Social Care TV: The dementia environment at home

This film shows how simple changes, to create a more dementia-friendly home environment, can have a positive impact on a person living with dementia's emotional wellbeing and independence. In the film, Ian, who has dementia, is offered suggested changes to his house, such as more contrasting bright colours. This produces a more 3D effect; using visual targets can reduce anxiety, agitation and sometimes changes in severe behaviour. Regular reviews should be undertaken to make sure the environment remains dementia-friendly, as the needs of the person with dementia may change. Making changes to the home environment can help a person with dementia to remain independent and maintain their dignity.

Social Care TV: The dementia environment in a care home

This film illustrates how simple changes to create a more dementia-friendly care home environment can also have a positive impact on a person living with dementia. The film looks at issues such as mirrors and glass; these need to be non-reflective, because otherwise it can create an object or a shadow. Also, as the sun goes down, some people's agitation increases, so in the home featured, specialist lighting has been installed. Some people relate better to pictures than to words; pictures can be an excellent way of helping people with dementia to communicate and to orientate themselves.

Both films are followed by key learning points and there are plenty of other resources available from SCIE that support dementia care and support.

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Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: media@scie.org.uk