Orientation in the home
noun - the action of orienting someone or something relative to the points of a compass or other specified positions.
Memory loss and the inability to retain new memories is enough of a challenge in itself, so when someone moves from a familiar place they may have lived in for many years, there's a high probability their new home will always seem unfamiliar. This is a major contributor to why the environment can be associated with as much as 80% of the issues faced by care home residents.
Successful orientation strategies help residents to do two important things; to know 'where I am now', and to assist them in confidently going to 'where I want to be'.
Where I am now....
If you're unfamiliar with your environment, and have difficulty finding your way around, it needs to be really clear when you've arrived at your destination. Signage plays an important role here. Over use of signage isn't helpful, but effective signage for Toilets and residents own rooms is essential. Our designs use LRV's to ensure appropriate contrast and therefore visibility of the signs.
Use of effective signage to reinforce 'where I am now' is a simple way to provide a massive benefits by boosting confidence and independence. If this seems like an exaggerated appraisal of the benefits of a simple sign, just imagine never being able to find a toilet when you need one.
Where I need to be....
is a more complex problem and a more involved solution but it still boils down to the application of a little science and a good dose of common sense.
An effective way-finding strategy isn't one solution, but a number of them working together.
It starts with lighting - there's a complete separate section on this site about lighting and its benefits so suffice to say here that, if people are going to find their way around, they need to be able to see where they're going! Merkily lit corridors are perceived as a great challenge when you have poor eye sight and still more so if you have cognitive challenges. Poor lighting is inexcusable when amazing lighting products are now so cheap and readily available. We import a range of highly effective LED lighting, some of which will shortly be available to purchase on this site.
Once the lighting is right, the decor needs to be full of visual cues, so there needs to be appropriate levels of contrast between walls, doors, skirtings and door frames. The colour schemes should differ from one area to the next and be accompanied by era-specific, themed images to add a meaningful degree of attractive differentiation and interest to these area's.
Another really worthwhile addition to the environment are Points of Interest. Creating feature area's in communal spaces is an excellent way to add an interactive element which also works as an effective landmark or point of reference. These are the basic idea's which will work in any home yet are so very seldom seen. Carefully chosen, the colour schemes used for this purpose can be followed right through the interior design scheme making a really attractive scheme that also fulfils an essential function.
The next level of orientation is Personalisation which is discussed in the next section.