Memory Care Facilities and Signage for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Residents – Important for Quality of Care
Posted by: Bruce Barnet January 30, 2015 in Alzheimer's Care
Signage is very important for Senior Homes,Communities and Assisted Living especially with a Memory Center component. Signage today should incorporate marketing and good taste but most importantly it should reflect the principals of Aging in Place design.
In reviewing the qualities of signage in THE UK for these specific types of communities this author finds that the US is geared to marketing and well crafted durable signage but our friends on the other side of the pond have done a much better job designing signage that meets the need of the occupants of these housing groups and facilities.. Certain design elements will help our aging population and relieve caregivers of a lot of stress.Signs that are created and placed correctly will also aide in reducing the work hours necessary to care for the clientele,i.e. less payroll.
Proper signage for the aging eye and a population that has ever decreasing cognitive abilities must reflect: clarity,placement,words AND pictures as well as contrasting colors. It is not sufficient to say "Men's Room" or Elevator,Stairs or Conference room.
The signage must use fonts that are clear and crisp in color as well as tones that contrasts with its background.
There should be a picture incorporated into the sign of a toilet for a bathroom or a stove for a kitchen. The height of the sign is very important too . As we get older we look down more because we are concerned that there is a clear path ahead of us. This signage can also be directional in nature with an arrow or even a finger pointing. In facilities where caregivers are needed, the longer an occupant can stay independent the less they will ask the caregiver to take them to the bathroom. Every time a caregiver has to leave the area to escort a patient to the bathroom or even their bedroom it takes time away from their real duties. This adds up and eventually more help is needed.
By having a themed signage program that corresponds to the place a person is being directed to is also very helpful.
For example a ladies' room can be a red sign with white lettering with a picture of a white toilet with a red toilet seat. In the ladies' room itself all the toilets can have red toilet seats. In addition to reinforcing the identity with the color and picture of the sign, the contrasting color of the seat allows the user to feel more secure that they are in the right place. It also shows that the seat is in the correct down position.
Unique door signage in complexes where all buildings,floors and corridors are virtually identical can greatly enhance the living environment.
When all doors are identical each one can be made to look unique by applying a door mural of various colors and designs. With this in place it makes it much easier to identify a building or one's own room. This is especially helpful when transitioning from a home to a residential community.
Most communities today have a central gathering area that has a kitchen with lots of draws.
We all know what it is like to cook in a neighbors house;we spend untold time opening draws looking for cookware,dishes,condiments. By using small stick on signage with the words and picture indicating what is in the draw we can save a lot of time and frustration. It makes every new community universally friendly.
People want to and sometimes need to live in various types of communities.
There are self contained life style communities that range from single family homes to apartment houses to assisted living,memory care all the way to hospice.When the same signage is themed throughout it makes the transitioning easier,provides security and saves money for all. As our society ages we need for our community designs to progress with the population. As our eyesight degenerates we get glasses or if available have an operation. But what can we do for the cognitive functioning of our brains.
Signage using pictures,colors and words will help!
Bruce Barnet is the Managing Principal with Healthcare Products, LLC