Healthcare: Evan’s Textiles Dementia Expertise

Qualified Expertise in Designing for Dementia

Dementia is one of the most debilitating conditions within the UK. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, 920,000 people in the UK are living with dementia today – a number expected to rise to over a million by 2024. Recent research* suggests over 300,000 people with dementia are living in care homes (57.9% in residential care homes and 42.1% in nursing homes) so how can design help facilitate an increased level of care for those living with dementia?

Bespoke by Evans is a leading flame retardant fabric supplier for the healthcare industry and every bespoke interior design project they contribute to takes into account the needs and requirements for people living with and caring for dementia. All fabrics designed by the Bespoke by Evans team are unique and reflects a clients requirement allowing for maximum flexibility.

To better support, those living with a diagnosis of dementia better, the designers at Bespoke by Evans enrolled on the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University and attended the Intersection of Dementia and Design course to further knowledge, support clients and help further those living with a diagnosis of dementia.

The intersection of Dementia and Design

Attending the course gives Bespoke by Evans a practical way to gain a better understanding of the challenges when faced with dementia and further help clients maximise their interior design concepts. The course highlights issues and challenges around the condition and how design, colour and wayfinding impact care environments.

Dementia is a complex cognitive condition so our team of textile designers enrolled on the course to become more versed in understanding common symptoms such as confusion or vision reduction which impacts how those people living with dementia identify colour and patterns. The course was backed up with critical research and positive examples of how well-designed care spaces can positively impact wellbeing.

In doing so, it is thought that poorly designed fabrics may:

  • Confuse or agitate residents or patients
  • Increase ‘avoidable’ falls or accidents

Having the ability to adjust and create something bespoke for those facing dementia may help:

  • Create suitable fabrics for each and every design scheme to help residents/patients cope
  • Allow those with dementia to find their bearings/way better
  • Provide a more comforting, visual environment

It is clear that well-thought-out design spaces have a clear role in supporting those with dementia and a unique, relevant design may help improve patient outcomes by helping to keep people safe.

Dementia-Specific Design

Bespoke design is simply not about aesthetics, it’s about creating something that helps to provide a solution to those in a care environment. We use all of our senses to navigate everyday life but for those living with dementia hearing, vision, smell, taste and touch can become distorted creating a sensory overload when a design does not meet the required standard.

For example, a ‘regular’ fabric design which can commonly be found in pattern book may look fantastic for a domestic setting however, for those living with dementia, the design could be a source of agitation or stress due to overstimulation. Introducing subtle patterns and colourway which contract to other surroundings will help create a relaxing neutral scheme with contrasting pattern soft furnishing highlights such as cushions, upholstery and curtains.

Dementia Bespoke Design

Design is subjective and when it comes to those living with dementia, what could be right for one patient or resident doesn’t mean it will work for another – likewise, the care environment that is suitable for one care or nursing home does not necessarily mean it is suitable for another.

Bespoke fabric design offers heightened flexibility on individual projects – something which ‘generic’ flame retardant fabrics cannot readily do. Colours, patterns, scale, textures and also applications can all be customised to offer a solution that works. Key considerations when designing any bespoke fabric are: who will interact with this fabric? What room will it be needed for? How will is support the resident or patient with dementia?

Preserving Longer-Term Memories

A bespoke design element commonly used in care is the integration of longer-term memories which older residents and patients can identify with their past. Familiarity can help stimulate conversation and memories. Having the ability to create something unique to reflect a familiar feeling or memory can be so important when creating a positive specifically-design health or social care space. With bespoke design there is also the option to customise the care environment with localised photographic imagery printed on flame retardant fabric providing shared common memories around the healthcare setting.

Helpful bespoke dementia-specific design elements include:

  • Leading edges on the curtain – help resident’s identity where to handle the fabric
  • Contrasting fabric colours on seating – contrasting arms, cushion & back panels reduce the risk of falls and confusion
  • Double-sided bed throws – providing the ability for two designs; a plain calming design or decorative pattern that matches the surroundings
  • Bespoke design can be used as an aid to recognition – for example placing appropriate objects on fabrics such as cutlery within dining areas so residents and patients are familiar with their setting

At Bespoke by Evans, our textile design team are qualified with both the Intersection Design & Dementia and years of experience working with clients within the healthcare industry. By investing in the course, Bespoke by Evans hopes that they can make a positive and significant impact on clients that are faced with dementia.

We know supporting people with dementia is a top priority and our fabrics are guaranteed to be safe to British Standards for flame retardancy. With a wide range of base cloths, bespoke design service and collaboration with our textile design team will have a positive impact on resident and patient well-being and the delivery of any interior design scheme.

*Source: Prince, M et al (2014) Dementia UK: Update Second Edition report produced by King’s College London and the London School of Economics for the Alzheimer’s Society.

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About Jess Mockler

Jess is a Marketing & Event professional who joined the BCFA as a Marketing Executive in 2019. Working closely with designers and BCFA members, Jess has published an array of content for the Commercial sector.
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