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Checklist for creating a dementia friendly physical environment

Listed below are a number of things that Innovations in Dementia suggest can be achieved at a small scale and cost but can have a major impact on improving accessibility for people with dementia.

Signage
  • Signs should be clear, in bold face with good contrast between text and background.
  • There should be a contrast between the sign and the surface it is mounted on.
  • Signs should be fixed to the doors they refer to – not on adjacent surfaces.
  • Signs should be at eye level and well-lit.
  • The use of highly stylized or abstract images or icons as representations on signage should be avoided.
  • Think about placing signs at key decision points for someone who is trying to navigate your premises for the first time.
  • Signs for toilets and Exits are particularly important.
  • Ensure that glass doors are clearly marked.
Lighting
  • Entrances should be well-lit and make as much use of natural light as possible.
  • Pools of bright light and deep shadows should be avoided.
Flooring
  • Avoid highly reflective and slippery floor surfaces.
  • Changes in floor finish should be flush.
Seating
  • In larger premises – a seating area especially in areas where people are waiting can be a big help.
  • People with dementia prefer seating that looks like seating – so for example a wooden bench rather than an abstract metal Z-shaped bench.
Navigation
  • Research shows that people with dementia use “landmarks” to navigate their way around, both inside and outside. The more attractive and interesting the landmark (which could be a painting, or a plant) the easier it is to use as a landmark.