According to HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) there are just over 570 nursing homes looking after approximately 26,000 residents in the Republic of Ireland. In the United Kingdom this figure rises substantially to over 21,000 registered care homes, nursing homes and residential homes (Carehome.co.uk). With over 840,000 people living with dementia in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, (Alzheimer's Society) the use of colour and how it positively or negatively impacts a person's living environment is becoming more and more important. Because people suffering from dementia can often have difficulties with their sight and perception it is important to understand the importance of colour in caring for these patients. Every object we place inside a nursing home from the carpets to the table place settings and down to the colours we choose for our nursing home uniforms and care home uniforms can affect our patients.
We all like living in beautifully designed spaces. In fact, even if we do not suffer from dementia, a well designed living environment can greatly affect our mood. Believe it or not, the choices that we make when deciding how our living environments will look have a documented effect on our emotions and perceptions. Lets delve into the world of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to take a look at how the colours we pick for our nursing home uniforms and care home uniforms can affect the patients we look after on a daily basis. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe first wrote about colour psychology in the 19th century in his book, Theory of Colours and although there is some debate regarding the implications of certain colours, most people agree on the following meanings:
Below are some more ideas for how you can help patients suffering with dementia navigate the world around them by using colour more effectively:
Contrasting table place settings
Highlighting Important Objects Such As Toilet Seats
Highlighting the Bathroom Door in a Different Colour
Colour can also be used to blend or hide objects that your patients do not need to use or see. You should also try to avoid using contrasting colours where floor surfaces meet as these can be seen as a step or barrier.