Ten Happy Days Tips for Residential & Dementia Care Homes © by Gillian Hesketh MA

Our guest post comes from Gillian Hesketh, the MD of Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design. The workshop provides excellent reminiscence and decorative materials for care homes, which ensures that both residents and staff are happy in their environment. Gillian has kindly contributed a guest post focusing on how to make care homes inviting and comfortable; read on to find out more!

You can find Gillian on her twitter, website and by phone at 01253-899163.

Ten Happy Days Tips for Residential & Dementia Care Homes 2018 ©

By Gillian Hesketh MA
MD Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design

Designers spend weeks, months, even years researching safe environments, product durability, audience usage and much more. As MD of Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design, I have visited hundreds of residential homes over the past few years and have found many simple and cost-effective solutions to enliven residential and dementia care home environments, uplift mood and help carers enrich social care for well-being.
Try it yourself with my Ten Happy Days Tips:

Take a look around your resident areas. Are they working well? Are social areas interesting? Can you see cluttered corners or notice boards? Is wayfinding prompted?

1. Entrance Porch and Area:

Keep notices simple. Display emergency and important information together. Update information regularly. Visitors may have endured a long journey or rushed from work. Use images to attract interest. Display activities for the week on a separate board to stimulate curiosity and provide clarity.

2. Social Areas

Furnish living and social areas with titles to help wayfinding. Add extra meaning by ensuring an image or colour is created within the name i.e: Garden Room – Reminiscence & Activity Corner – Meadows Lane – Bluebell Avenue – Coronation Street. Areas can be named to accentuate themes: Market Street [with shop window murals]. If you have a pub or cafe, name if after your local and add the local street name to the corridor.

3. Smaller Areas & Awkward Corners

Is the best outcome being made of unused spaces? Brighten up dark corners with a sixties patterned wallpaper, nostalgic displays or themed wall art. Try a Happy Days activity tool board, or create a music or sewing theme.

4. Visitors

Encourage visitors to engage with residents. Often, relatives and friends are at loss of things to say or do when visiting their loved one. Let visitors know you have a range of nostalgic games, jigsaws and memory boxes to share with residents. Create an activity corner.

5. Games & Activities

Repair damaged boxes. People are used to the everyday task of fixing and sorting things — so ask residents to engage in the project. [Make it a monthly activity]. Re-organise activity storage cupboards — you never know what you’ll find at the back of the shelf.

6. All Around

Remove shabby or jaded flower displays.
Clear tattered books from bookshelves.
Sort out your CD collection – Less is more – Too many CDs takes up time when searching for music. Ask residents for their favourites. Sort into music styles.

7. Fresh Flowers

There’s nothing better than a vase of fresh flowers to please the eye and prompt conversations. Have you got any daffodils or summer flowers in the garden? Flowers can be simple and don’t need to be expensive. Move the vase to different locations throughout the week. Ensure dying flowers are removed immediately.

8. Wall Art – Displays – Murals

Imagine seeing the wall art through the eyes of your residents. Are the pictures too high for residents to see? If so, re-locate pictures to a lower position. Take down faded pictures or tiny pictures which are difficult to see.

There is no doubt about it, nostalgic or themed displays can get tongues wagging. Consider the content in terms of residents’ interests, stimulating content, extended meaning and relates to the location in the home: Sun Lounge – Hair Salon – Reminiscence Corner – Gents Leisure Room. Avoid blank colours, spots and stripes which by nature, cannot prompt memories. Wall art can aid wayfinding too. Images of food often encourage eating and help direct residents towards dining areas. Check out the extensive range of Happy Days nostalgic wall art online at http://www.dementiaworkshop.co.uk

9. Outdoor Areas

If windows look out onto a garden area, add squirrel or rabbit garden ornaments and/or a bird table. Ask a local joiner to make a bird table. Engage interested residents. Many people take great enjoyment from watching or feeding the birds. Face chairs towards the view and watch the smiles.

10. Balance noise levels.

During visits, I often notice both a radio and a television are switched on in the same room, causing sound confusion. Let residents know when you are going to use loud appliances. Be respectful – Don’t call out to colleagues when vacuuming – unless it’s for safety purposes. If care teams are happy, everyone will feel happy. If you think and feel well, this will reflect onto the person or people you are caring for. Carers, make sure you have some ‘me time’, eat well, sleep well and plan some favourite activities, spend time with friends, just chill out or read a good book.

Happy Days Publishing 2018©
Shop for reminiscence and decorative materials online at dementiaworkshop.co.uk.