Dementia Friendly Flooring

Dementia has unfortunately affected most of us in some way or another. Whether or not we have personally gotten to a vulnerable age, or have a loved one who has experienced it, dementia is a human condition that should be taken seriously by all.

In 2013, an estimated 322,000 Australians suffered from dementia, 74 percent of whom were aged 75 or older. Considering Australia’s rapidly ageing population, this number will only rise. According to projections by the Australian Government, this number will triple to approximately 900,000 by 2050. This substantial growth will place high demands on local health and aged care systems and services, including equipping health professionals with the right training and funding research for treatment and prevention.

This is where architects and designers come in. It’s important for us to plan ahead and design our homes, hospitals and aged care facilities to accommodate the rise of those dealing with dementia. Creating “dementia-friendly” environments means ensuring flexibility and prolonging the life cycle of a building and its products.

So where do you begin? Well a wealth of information already exists on how to implement the most ideal design. For instance, the Victorian Department of Health suggests using colour as a wayfinding tool, and draws attention to how much natural daylight a space has as this influences how particular colours are contrasted and seen. Another major aspect of designing a dementia-friendly environment, whether it’s a home or a facility, is selecting the right flooring material and finish.

Floors can work together with other interior elements such as colour, lighting and signage to create clear way-finding signals which aid in orientation and offer a visual comfort for patients. They can also contribute to reduced anxiety and stress levels of patients who may be experiencing changes to their sense of sight, such as a loss of peripheral vision. One of the flooring materials organisations such as VIC Health have proposed for use in spaces inhabited by people with dementia is vinyl, which is resilient, quieter and more ‘home-like’ than other products.

As a manufacturer of vinyl floor and wall coverings that are specified in healthcare applications, Polyflor understands how important integral surfaces are in promoting wellbeing within an environment. Our products can be utilised to create a stylish, relaxed and personal atmosphere so that occupants feel right at home. The goal is to make the space feel far from clinical. An authentic reproduction of timber, like the Polysafe Wood fx PUR range is a safe and slip resistant flooring option that would cater to dementia residents with a wide range of needs; European Oak 3347 shade creates a homely, welcoming, and comfortable atmosphere.

Polyflor is committed to providing relevant product guidance to specifiers and end users in the specialist care sector and recommend flooring solutions that are suited for use within dementia-led facilities.