Apr 2019: Mixing dementia-friendly design with domestic style

Care, Lifestyle

If you’re looking for a care home for older relatives, good design might not seem like the highest priority.

But in fact, well-thought-out design can have the dual effect of making the resident feel more at home, while also helping them if they are dealing with some of the symptoms of dementia.


One of the symptoms of dementia is a decreased ability to tell the difference between colours. Stripes or strong patterns on walls or floors may be confusing.

So, at Baycroft homes we avoid wallpaper and carpets with too much contrast, large patterns or shiny finishes. Colour schemes are carefully selected and there is artwork for the residents to choose from to decorate their bedrooms.

Similarly, the resident can pick their duvets and pillows. Ensuring that the bed truly feels like their own is a vital part of making the surroundings as homely as possible.

Light and visibility

A very important part of care home design comes from making the most of light – whether it’s natural sunlight or artificial lighting.

The light level for those with dementia – as well as those who may be partially sighted – needs to be a little higher. Making sure that all rooms are well lit helps to create a more vibrant, positive atmosphere and can reduce the risk of accidents from trips.

Light is also closely linked to sleep. Getting enough sunlight can affect the quality of sleep a person has at night, and so Baycroft homes all look to maximise the amount of natural light – whether that’s through a specifically adapted dementia garden, large windows in communal spaces, or stylish lighting mirroring the home’s décor.

A stimulating environment

A care home should offer something for everyone. And it’s not only about activities, it should be able to cater for people’s different moods and personality types as well.

So bedrooms need to be cosy enough for a resident to enjoy peace and quiet on their own. Communal areas should provide space for different pursuits, while a comfortable living/dining room should be an enticing space for easy socialising.

Baycroft homes provide all these areas and more – from spacious lounge areas to a cinema room, library and a hair and nail salon.

For those living with dementia, stimulation is vital. One study shows that improving the sensory environment helps 74% of people suffering from dementia improve in motor performance and the ability to undertake everyday tasks. Additionally, 63% improved in cognitive tasks, the ability to remember, problem-solve and judge what to do in everyday activities.

In Baycroft’s Great Baddow home, we’ve added multi-sensory wall art to the specialised dementia area. The art includes tactile wall artwork, a set of framed velvet cushions, 3D art and textured panels.

Clarity and purpose

All the features in a Baycroft home have been carefully considered to create the ideal blend of style, practicality and comfort.

Clear signage around the homes works to avoid confusion for residents – particularly those with dementia who may suffer from disorientation, or forgetfulness over what they were doing. To avoid over-using signposts, feature landmarks have been strategically placed around the home for easy orientation.

Glazed panels in doors to communal spaces mean that residents can pick up on the activity going on inside before entering. Similarly, those communal spaces have been furnished with distinctive domestic features so that the rooms are clearly recognisable in terms of function.

Designing a care home is a challenging endeavour. But one thing’s for certain – practicality doesn’t need to come at the cost of attractive design.