Published on 10 December 2019 11:04

Flooring for Dementia

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Key Learning outcomes
  • Continuous flooring surface.
  • Differentiating between flooring and critical surfaces.
  • Acoustics – reducing impact sound.
  • Avoiding sensory overload.
  • Health & Safety credentials.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK – a figure set to rise to over a million by 2025 and double that by 2051. One in 14 people over 65 will develop dementia, and the condition affects one in six people over 80.

Dementia is classified as “different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function”. These conditions are all usually progressive and eventually severe. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, while symptoms include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.

Given these symptoms, it is important that dementia patients are looked after in environments that maintain or improve their quality of life, as well as aid their health and wellbeing. Residential care homes and assisted living facilities, for example, need to be suitably equipped with the appropriate facilities to ensure dementia patients feel comfortable and safe in their surroundings. This not only applies to lighting, signage and appliances, but also to fundamental elements of interior design, including walls – and flooring.

This CPD article will focus on the key factors to consider when specifying and designing luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring for use with people with dementia.

[ref. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-us/news-and-media/facts-media]

1.0 Continuous flooring surface

Applications requiring dementia-friendly flooring include hospitals, day-care centres, rehabilitation clinics and residential care homes – as well as people’s own houses. Whatever the environment, flooring remains an integral part of an interior space.

A good reference point is BS 8300:2018 Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment (Part 2: Buildings – code of practice). This standard provides guidance on access within buildings, their internal facilities – and flooring.

Tone is one of the most intrinsic elements of any flooring for people with dementia, as there needs to be as little contrast as possible. In other words, the floor should be viewed as one continuous surface, as any large tonal contrasts can be interpreted as ‘a step’ by dementia sufferers, causing them panic and confusion – which could also result in a fall. This is particularly important when considering flooring in adjacent areas of a room or building.

LRV (light reflectance values) also have a key role to play. In architecture, LRV is “a measure of the percentage of visible and useable light that is reflected from a surface when illuminated by a light source”. In a dementia environment, flooring in adjacent areas should have similar LRV levels for the reasons identified above; both BS 8300 and the DSDC (Dementia Services Development Centre) stipulate flooring LRVs should be within 8 degrees of each other (the lower the better) and no more than 10 degrees.

Additionally, transitional ‘threshold’ strips between any two floor surfaces should match the tones of both surfaces, while any barrier matting should blend in tonally. Ideally, there should be no more than 3 degrees of LRV step difference. The same applies to any floor mats between rooms, as well as carpet edging or cover strips – while it should also be noted that any matting should be scrutinised and checked to ensure it is not a trip hazard.

LVT is available in a range of subtle nuances and styles, so is perfect when hues and tones need to be kept to similar levels. It also requires suitable lighting to ensure consistent degrees of LRV, either in a single room or throughout an entire building.
In a dementia care environment, the floor should be viewed as one continuous surface.
In a dementia care environment, the floor should be viewed as one continuous surface.
 
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Amtico UK & European Sales
Solar Park
Southside
Solihull
West Midlands
B90 4SH
Louisa Eyles
Tel +44 (0)121 745 0800
louisa.eyles@amtico.com
The information contained in the CPD article web pages is not intended and accordingly shall not be relied upon either as a substitute for professional advice or judgement or to provide legal or other advice with respect to any particular circumstance. RIBA Enterprises accepts no responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the information contained.
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