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Care homes

Creating communities for all

We know that for someone who faces physical challenges, has complex learning difficulties, additional needs or a combination of these, life can be tough. Today though, particularly for people living in care homes or adapted-housing, there is an emphasis on helping residents to live well, both physically and emotionally.

At Altro, we have spent many years developing floors and walls that support well-being across all types of care homes and within home adaptations. We are proud of our role in helping to create communities for all. To us this means helping fashion care homes that are welcoming, attractive, inclusive and safe. Where it is possible to help a resident stay, or become, more independent, and be happier because of this, that’s what we will do.

We design for specific types of care homes. Find out more.

Willowbrook care home

Care homes – nursing

Nursing homes are care homes where residents receive 24-hour nursing care, where needed. Residents may have a long term condition (LTC), physical disabilities or complex additional needs. In 2014-15, 86,000 people were accessing Long term Support (Nursing)*. The majority of nursing homes residents are over 65; there are now 11.4 million people that fall into this age bracket in the UK. 1.5 million people are aged 85 or over. By 2040, nearly one in four people in the UK (24.2%) will be aged 65 or over**.

With residents including the elderly, people with sensory impairment, those with dementia and people with physical disabilities, the risk of a slip or fall is high, making safety flooring a must in high-risk areas and recommended in communal areas. The Age UK ‘Stop Falling’ Report states that:

  • Every minute six people over 65 suffer a fall.
  • Every year, more than one in three (3.4 million) people over 65 suffer a fall that can cause serious injury and even death. 
  • Currently there are a reported 310,000 incidents per year of fractures as a result of falling

Good hygiene is vital to protect residents with low immunity by reducing the spread of infection so an impervious, easy to clean walls and floors system has an important role to play.

However, the emphasis is on the word ‘home’. These are not hospitals so while residents must be protected, a personal touch is needed and expected.

*Connect Innovate report on Assisted Living
**Later Life in the United Kingdom’, Age UK June 2016.

Care homes – residential

Residential care homes are where people live permanently, or stay temporarily while recuperating. Residents do not need ‘round the clock’ care. Some will have chosen to retire to this type of accommodation and others may not be able to cope with living alone, for a variety of reasons. Residential care home residents, which will include children, can include those with learning disabilities, additional needs and/or physical disabilities.

These care homes need to look impressive, as well as homely. Families, or the residents themselves, may be paying to be there, or families are looking for reassurance that the home is well-run, clean and homely. This means that aesthetics are constantly being judged, particularly in the reception areas and visitor bathrooms. Durable, easy-to-clean and maintain floor and wall solutions can help to make the right impression. Add high-end, high quality products with design flexibility, and exceeding expectations is that much easier.

For those living in residential care homes, a homely appearance is vital. Clinical rooms can appear threatening and exacerbate symptoms, affecting well-being.

For areas where children live and visit, our hugely varied colour palette means the only limit in terms of design, is your imagination. We can also offer guidance on which of our shades are calming or stimulating, depending on the room and the needs of the children.

We recommend safety flooring for all areas of a residential home where contaminants, such as greasy water or shower gel, tend to be found, meaning there’s a high to very high risk of a slip. For other areas, such as patient bedrooms, our floors for areas that do not require enhanced slip resistance offer a huge choice in terms of colour and design.

Retirement villages

Retirement villages often include more than one type of accommodation: private homes for independent living within a community, and a communal home where residents who may need more support live together.

In private homes within retirement villages, the emphasis is on high-end, hotel-style living. Having safe, hygienic solutions is important, but should not be obvious to residents who do not consider themselves ‘old’ and in need of specialist solutions.

Although there are fewer health issues, the majority of residents will be over 65, which puts them at more risk of a slip, making our safety floors the ideal solutions for communal areas, and for wet environments.

Home adaptations

Home adaptations allow individuals who are disabled, ageing or vulnerable to continue to live in their own homes for longer. This does require, however, homes to be adapted to provide a safe and comfortable environment for them to live in. When houses are adapted, you need to not only consider the needs of the individual now, but in the future. Physical and mental health can deteriorate over time, and to have a familiar environment that does not have to be changed reduces stress and confusion after the house modification.

“I was given a lovely range of colours to choose from for my new floors and walls, and it was so nice to be able to make these decisions for myself, and be involved in the process, rather than just given something plain and boring. I chose a nice grey blue for the shower room floor, which matches the blue walls. It’s a lovely colour scheme. 

“Feeling safe in the shower room is very important for me, and the flooring is not slippery at all, even when it’s wet. I have someone in to clean it for me and they tell me this is very easy to do.

“It’s a miracle, really, that I was able to stay here. Everyone who visits me is amazed by what has been done in the house and very impressed with how it looks. I am so grateful to everyone involved.”

Mrs Mohammed, London
 
Green Pastures Care Home

Safe and compliant

It is vital to enable residents to be independent however, the fact that many are vulnerable means we play a part in ensuring safety. This includes helping to prevent slips, making maintaining hygienic interiors easier, and supporting way-finding. As well as a duty of care to residents, care homes are also obliged by law to protect staff from unsafe working conditions. These obligations are reflected in industry standards and regulation.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 says that patients must be ‘protected against the risks associated with unsafe and unsuitable premises, by means of…suitable design and layout…maintenance and …operation’.

Compliance with the Health and Social Care Act is taken into account by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates healthcare providers. Requirements include the safety and suitability of premises, cleanliness and infection control. Failure to comply is an offence and so it’s at the heart of how a care home is managed and has an impact on which fittings and fixtures are installed. We can help with any compliance questions you have about your obligations and our solutions. Please speak with your Altro consultant, or contact us directly.

Minimising slip risk

For the elderly or frail, a simple trip can have catastrophic and life-changing effects, which makes fall prevention measures vital.

The effects of falling for an older person can be devastating. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) figures show that falls cost the NHS £2.3 billion per year and, according to Age UK, falls and fractures in people aged 65 and over account for over 4 million hospital bed days each year in England. Age UK's report, Facts about falls, states that 10% of hip-fracture patients will die within one month of their fracture and 30 per cent will die within a year.

In 2014, falls accounted for up to 40% of ambulance call-outs to homes for people aged 65+, costing £115 per callout*.

Age-related changes to our sense of sight include the loss of peripheral vision, colour vision changes, problems with glare and nearer images being blurred. This can mean that poor lighting or badly chosen flooring can be a real danger. For this reason, we recommend that in addition to choosing the right flooring products, consider lighting, handrails and other safety features, along with good housekeeping, to remove hazards and ensure best performance.

*Later Life in England Factsheet, Age UK

Need enhanced slip resistance?

We recommend Altro safety flooring for all areas where there is a high, or very high, risk of a slip. This means anywhere where contaminants, such as water, food and shampoo for example, will be present. For areas where contaminants aren’t typically found, such as a bedroom, we have other flooring options. However, for care homes, where people may be vulnerable, unwell or have difficulties moving around, Altro safety floors can be used throughout to ensure protection. We have attractive, homely options specifically designed to minimise the slip risk in every area of a care home.

Why Altro?

Working with experts

To make sure our products continue to offer those designing for dementia a choice of suitable, practical and effective solutions, we have worked with a number of industry experts.

"In this time of ever increasing regulation and legislation it is essential that architects have access to sound and reliable information on construction products. Altro have taken enormous time and trouble to research the vital data that architects need in order to be able to specify flooring materials and wall finishes with confidence. Being able to select the most appropriate material and finish for a wide variety of uses and situations gives architects and other specifiers the opportunity to design beautiful buildings and spaces in the comforting knowledge that they have complied fully with their health, safety and infection control responsibilities. Building needs are wide and varied and the particular issues that need to be taken into account in the design of the internal environment for people with dementia are often neglected. Altro have sought to create a range of products to address these specific needs."
Richard Pollock Burnett
Pollock Associates, Architects, Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling

Designing for dementia video

DSDC - Dementia Services Development Centre

We worked with the University of Stirling's renowned Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) when developing new shades of Altro Aquarius to ensure carers and those with dementia can be safer in wet environments. We also worked with the team there when developing the colour palette for Altro Suprema. This range features solid, non-sparkle colours that can work on their own, or in conjunction with Altro Aquarius to minimise visual barriers.

The Dementia Services Development Centre's Dementia Design Audit Tool contains a series of resources for carrying out self-assessment of environments that are used by people with dementia. It is suitable for refurbishment projects or new buildings and is relevant across a range of settings including day centres, wards, care homes and medical centres. The design audit tool will help identify areas for improvement and can be used to prepare for the formal design audit certificate process. To learn more about The Dementia Services Development Centre, arrange a tour, or find out more about their DSDC Dementia Design Audit Tool and a range of design consultancy services, please visit dementia.stir.ac.uk.

Follow the link to read Liz Fuggle's article, 'How interior design can help compensate for dementia and improve quality of life for those living with it'.

Dementia-friendly communities

As dementia affects more people, dementia-friendly installations across communities, rather than just health and social care, will be needed.

In its report, Dementia 2015: Aiming higher to transform lives*, Alzheimer's Society recommended 8 actions that will ensure people affected by dementia can live well with the condition.

Action 7: Drive forward dementia-friendly communities

This action was included in the dementia challenge, launched in 2012 by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron. It stands alongside driving improvements in health and care and improving dementia research. It has been driven forward by Alzheimer's Society and Public Health England and resulted in the development of Dementia Friends, a network of volunteers who help dementia friendly communities. There are now over one million Dementia Friends in the UK and 105 communities working towards being dementia friendly.

Alzheimer's Society, working with the British Standards Institution (BSI), launched a consultation on a PAS (Publicly Available Specification) which takes the form of a code of practice for communities working towards becoming dementia friendly at Alzheimer's Society annual conference in July 2014. Copies of the PAS can be obtained through enquiry at the Alzheimer's Society website form.

With an original target of 20 Dementia-Friendly Communities by March 2015, Alzheimer's Society now have over 115 registered communities and an ambition set out in the Prime Minister's Challenge 2020 of at least 50% of people living in dementia-friendly communities by the end of 2020.

This work shows that designing for dementia is becoming a necessary part of planning, whatever the project.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has developed Dementia Without Walls, a three year initiative to empower people with dementia, help develop dementia-friendly communities and encourage different thinking around dementia. It funded a project across Yorkshire, covering public places from cafés and libraries to hospitals and sports centres, including its Airedale General Hospital. Evaluations of the project are now available on the Joseph Rowntree website.

Designing for residents

Designing for dementia is an area we are proud to have worked in for many years. We are members of the Dementia Action Alliance and our guidance supports the design principles outlined in the DoH HBN 08-02, Dementia- friendly Health and Social Care Environments. The guidance is an expansion of HBN 08 series on long-term conditions/long stay care and reflects national policy.

We believe care homes, and increasingly community buildings, need to be designed to help those affected by dementia to live well. Following the principles set out in HBN 08-02 creates dementia-friendly homes but also well-designed, calming, attractive and appropriate homes for all care home residents.

To find out more about designing for dementia, click on the tabs above.

What is dementia

The term describes a host of conditions associated with the gradual deterioration of the brain's functions. These can include problems with reasoning and communication, speed of thinking, comprehension, mental agility, memory loss and feelings of anxiety, depression or anger. Its causes are various brain diseases, the most well-known being Alzheimer's, which affects 62% of cases. Dementia is not simply part of the ageing process; it can be caused by changes to the brain structure and gradual damage to the brain cells.

Visual impairment is a common symptom of dementia however, it is also a symptom of aging. 35% of those aged 75+ and 50% of 90+ have sight loss which affects their day to day living. People with sight loss are much more likely to have problems with day to day living, feel their quality of life is lower, feel less satisfied with life, have lower confidence, lower levels of wellbeing, and higher levels of depression*.  Many of the principles of designing for dementia take visual impairment into account, helping more residents to live well.

*‘Later Life in the United Kingdom’, Age UK June 2016.

Dementia in the UK

In the UK, 38% of the people with dementia live in residential care or nursing homes, and up to 70% of care home residents in the UK have dementia or significant memory loss. A study published by Alzheimer's Society*, reports that the number of people with dementia in the UK has reached 850,000. Assuming no public health intervention, this number will be over 2 million by 2051.

We can offer guidance whether you are building, refurbishing or developing dementia-friendly communities, ensuring you select the flooring and wall cladding that will help maximise quality of life, and meet legal requirements.

*Dementia 2015: Aiming higher to transform lives

“Providing high quality care for the increasing number of people living with dementia, is one of the major challenges of the 21st-century. It is vital that care services understand the importance of having  appropriate physical environments, in which to deliver the highest possible quality of care. Over the years, we have developed a much greater understanding of how to use colour and texture, and the importance of designing services that enable people to live well, and maintain as much of their independence as possible.

“Altro, through its experience in designing and developing care environments, has built up an impressive bank of knowledge, and has always strived to be at the cutting edge of design and innovation. Any service that is considering refurbishment, or developing new facilities, can gain a lot helpful advice from the Altro team”

Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive, Care England

Designing care homes at a glance

  • Use complementary flooring and wall solutions to create a calm, welcoming, homely appearance
  • Use matt, sparkle-free flooring to avoid creating the impression of hazards that aren’t really there
  • View shades that run alongside each other in grey-scale to check that they definitely contrast
  • For areas with a high or very high risk of a slip, always choose flooring with a Pendulum Test Value (PTV) of ≥36, which offers a one in a million chance of slipping for the lifetime of the flooring
  • To help encourage independent movement, install similar flooring between rooms, for example, moving from vinyl to carpet can cause hesitation, or look like a step
  • In wet environments, avoid overly textured flooring that could hurt sensitive bare feet and choose non-clinical shades that help create a relaxing bathing experience
  • Avoid steps or the misperception of steps due to reflection or patterns in general areas that those with dementia, or visual impairment, may negotiate alone
  • Avoid lighting which alters the appearance of the floor finish, for example, making it appear wet
  • Use art to aid familiarity and help with way-finding as well as make people feel welcome, offering a pleasant and enjoyable stay
  • Ensure the colours of walls, doors, floors and ceilings contrast to demark them unless trying to conceal an entrance, for example, to a service corridor or kitchen
  • Ensure the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of walls, flooring and any other critical surfaces, differs by at least 30 points
  • Consider few colours in one area to avoid creating confusing surroundings
  • Consider a hygienic, impervious system such as Altro Pisces and Altro Whiterock Satins for wet environments, or Altro Stronghold 30 and Altro Whiterock White, or Altro Whiterock Satins, for kitchens
  • Remember the staff-only areas should be as homely and look as good as the rest of the care home to create a pleasant and inspiring work environment
  • Install solutions that are anti-pick and anti-ligature to protect residents, including those who present challenging behaviours
  • Doors can help disguise or highlight entrances and exits. Consider their role when wall coverings are chosen.
  • Acoustic or sound reducing, comfort floors should be considered for quiet areas, sensory rooms and to muffle sound in corridors.

Find out more about areas to consider when designing for care home residents by clicking on the design in detail tab above and to help you choose the right floors and walls for each area of a care home, the Altro Product Selector offers guidance in an instant.

Design in detail

The following principles are outlined in the HBN 08-02, Dementia- friendly Health and Social Care Environments. Other relevant HBNs for designing care homes include HBN 05, older people and HBN 08, Long-term conditions/long-stay care.

01
Provide a safe environment.
02
Provide optimum levels of stimulation.
03
Provide optimum lighting and contrast
04
Provide a non-institutional scale and environment
05
Support orientation
06
Support way-finding and navigation.
07
Provide access to nature and the outdoors
08
Promote engagement with friends, relatives and staff
09
Provide good visibility and visual access
10
Promote privacy, dignity and independence
11
Promote physical and meaningful activities
12
Support diet, nutrition and hydration

Principle 1: Provide a safe environment. It should be safe, secure and easy to move around

This principle is about promoting independence, allowing residents to make the most of their abilities.

Guidance includes:

  • use of slip-resistant, matt finished flooring with no patterns or shadows.

To those with dementia or visual impairment, highly-polished, shiny flooring can appear wet, causing uncertainty and confusion; instead, the flooring should be matt. We also recommend flooring that is sparkle-free and without a heavy pattern, as these can cause distraction or look like something to pick up, which could result in a fall. We have a wide range of plain, matt flooring options to help avoid this.

  • orientation and way-finding cues to reduce the risk of getting lost and disoriented
  • design features that reduce infection risks

Our safety flooring contains Altro Easyclean technology, making cleaning easier and more effective. Our floors are impervious, preventing water ingress and avoiding trapping bacteria and associated odours. In addition, Altro Whiterock hygienic wall cladding is impervious, stain-resistant and wipe-clean, giving dirt nowhere to hide and making cleaning straight-forward. Together, Altro Whiterock and Altro safety floors offer an integrated system ideal for areas where hygiene matters.

  • slip-resistant surfaces in toilets, bathrooms and wet-rooms
  • safe, level and uncluttered internal and external environments to reduce the risk of inactivity and falls

Using Altro floors to colour-code areas can help with way-finding and reduce the need for clinical-looking signage. However, for residents with visual impairments and with dementia, ensure the colour transition between rooms isn’t profound enough to appear as a step. Altro Whiterock Digiclad also offers an ideal alternative to posters, photo-frames and notice-boards. In removing this type of clutter, hygiene is improved, there are fewer trip hazards and residents are able to move more freely, improving mobility and reducing frustration and boredom.

Principle 2: Provide optimum levels of stimulation

This is all about getting the levels of stimulation right to support residents’ well-being while avoiding over-stimulation which can cause anxiety. Stimulation can range from sensory rooms and quiet zones to a warm, friendly living area that encourages interaction and participation in activities.

It is the case that multiple types and levels of stimulation can be difficult to deal with.

  • Avoid over-patterned walls and general clutter

Using wall cladding such as Altro Whiterock Satins, which is available in a range of colours including Ice and Seafoam, helps create a homely, non-clinical look without the need for a pattern, plus it is durable and easy to clean.

Colour plays an important role here. Colour affects mood and can have a calming or stimulating affect for example, orange and reds should be avoided for children affected by autism, as they can prove overwhelming.

The bathing experience is an important part of a resident’s routine and the right colour stimulation can make all the difference.

Principle 3: Provide optimum lighting and contrast

  • The HBN offers guidance on providing the correct levels of light for people facing dementia and visual challenges

In our experience natural daylight is preferable, after all we all feel better in a light, airy atmosphere. Using lighter shades of our floors or walls such as Altro Wood Safety Bleached Oak or Altro Whiterock Satins Orchard can support this and are a great alternative to plain white, which looks clinical.

Harsh lighting and some LED lights can create false impressions about the environment such as the perception that the flooring is wet when it isn’t, resulting in uncertainty and possibly falls. Choosing sparkle-free safety flooring helps avoid this: we offer a wide range of sparkle-free options across our product portfolio. Please speak to your Altro consultant if you need guidance.

The impact of light reflection

Subtle differences between floors, walls, steps and doorways can cause enough uncertainty to result in a fall for people with various visual impairments. While colour choice is important here, it is the amount of light reflected from surfaces that is the main factor in determining a person's ability to identify different surfaces.

Light Reflectance Values (LRVs) are the best way to measure contrast. Every material has an LRV marked out of 100 points. To meet requirements, there should be at least a 30 point variance in LRVs between adjacent surfaces such as floors and walls.

Find out more about how light reflectance values can support independent movement.

Doors

HBN 08-02 includes the following guidance

  • use colour-coded doors or doorframes to differentiate and improve visibility, in combination with doors that blend in, to hide.

Altro doorsets offer protection, hygiene and a modern, high quality finish. Available in a variety of shades, they offer design flexibility, allowing you to match wall cladding, helping to hide the doorway and discourage entry. They can also be used to create a complete contrast, making the doorway stand out and encourage use.

  • wood and wood-effect finishes should be used where possible to help create a non-institutional feel. Vinyl finishes and/or laminates applied to doors can be an efficient, cost-effective refurbishment solution rather than installing new doors.
  • bold colour-coded door protection can be used either half-height or full height, in a consistent arrangement throughout the entire building if possible

Altro Fortis door protection helps protect doors against scuff and impact damage. It comes in ten colours including several bright shades and can be cut to the required height either on site, or by using our pre-cut ordering service .

Principle 4: Provide a non-institutional scale and environment

This has a huge impact. The places people call home should look like a home. Even in nursing homes where residents need more medical attention, a non-institutional setting can have a positive impact on recuperation, and on the time residents spend with visitors.

In a retirement village setting, ill-health is generally not an issue and the environment should be not only homely, but high-end. Increasingly hotel-standard surroundings are expected.

According to the HBN, areas to consider include:

  • avoiding  long corridors of institutional character
  • support daily activities and interior décor that indicate the function of a room.

An example could be using images of food, crockery and cutlery in Altro Whiterock Digiclad to highlight the dining room

  • support quality of life by introducing non-institutional interior design, decoration and art works.

Have a look at our Altro Whiterock Digiclad page to find out more.

  • dementia-friendly health and social care environments should include small scale, homely and welcoming lounges and day rooms to reduce over-stimulation

For more, see our section on creating a home.

Principle 5: Support orientation

Disorientation is common for residents with certain types of dementia, and may be experienced by other residents depending on their health and familiarity with the setting.

The HBN states that disorientation to location and time might lead patients/residents to:

  • walk about for what appears to be no reason;
  • attempt to leave; and
  • wake in the middle of the night and get dressed, ready for the next day (especially in winter)

Floors and walls can be used to discourage entry to rooms such as the kitchen, or certain exits. Using flooring with very different LRVs creates a visual barrier, for example, Altro Reliance 25 in Arena (LRV: 41) could be installed in a dining room, with Altro Stronghold 30 in Velvet (LRV: 8) could be put in an adjacent kitchen. The difference in LRV is more than 30 points, making it clearer that it's a different room and discourage movement into the kitchen. This colour combinations work in grey-scale too, the true proof that two shades either contrast, or work together, as needed.

  • An example of shades with similar LRVs that can run through, avoiding hesitation or misperception of a step, is Altro Pisces in Sea Urchin (LRV: 34) and Altro Suprema in Bubble (LRV: 52).

Also recommended are internal landmarks including artwork and items that give positive emotions while supporting orientation. These should be placed in a highly visible way, supported by light and colour contrast. See Altro Whiterock Digiclad.

Principle 6: Support way-finding and navigation

Impaired spatial orientation in people living with dementia is frequently reported.  The reduced ability of people with dementia to reach desired destinations (way-finding) on a daily basis affects their personal autonomy and quality of life. Spatial orientation should thus be considered a basic psychological need.

Spatial orientation can be a challenge for those with visual impairment and additional needs. Even for those unaffected by this, way-finding can be difficult, particularly for those new to a setting, or for visitors.

The HBN recommends

  • Avoiding long corridors; monotony and uniform architectural composition create repetitive environments.
  • Introducing noticeable landmarks that might have special meaning to users and can be used as reference points

Clever use of wall cladding or wall protection can ensure that corridors are not repetitive and can provide a contrast between wall and floor.Colour-coding and use of images on the wall can greatly help with way-finding and familiarity.

Way finding 

To promote independence, reduce stress and help those with dementia, or visual impairment, care homes put great emphasis on way finding. Altro floors and walls can both be used to personalise spaces, create points of recognition and even artworks to give residents points of reference and trigger memory. It also makes life easier for visitors and staff!

Colour is one of the ways of helping with way finding. Different colours may be incorporated into way finding and orientation, triggering the memory and helping to create familiarity but it's important to remember that not everyone sees colour the same way, so this should be combined with other visual signs such as art or other landmarks where possible. We have developed shades to suit all tastes and practical considerations, plus, our walls and floors shades combine to look good, and offer the required contrast differences (see ‘the impact of light reflection’ ). Whiterock Satins is available in 27 colours, and Altro Wood Safety in 20.

To see what your choice of solutions and colours could look like, see the Altro space visualiser.

Art can have a therapeutic effect on residents, can act as memory prompts for those with dementia and helps to make an area look less clinical and more homely. Altro Whiterock Digiclad can be used to create art without compromising on hygiene.

  • Altro Whiterock Digiclad enables photographic images to be used. These can act as memory prompts when wayfinding and designers have the flexibility to choose images that will work best with the residents. It can be used instead of traditional clinical signage
  • There should be a focus on images of nature and local reference points. These are proven to help trigger memories and calm, positive feelings

The inclusion of artwork can be beneficial for service users, staff and visitors; it can lend a special identity to spaces and a sense of locality (wayfinding). Users may be consulted when selecting artworks; pieces created by therapists and users could be incorporated in the building designs

Principle 7: Provide access to nature and the outdoors

To encourage movement into outdoor areas,  Altro doorsets are available in a range of colours to create a contrast with the wall so that the door is easy to find. The door could be faced with Altro Whiterock Digiclad, using images to help users recall that the exit leads outside.

Where it is not possible to provide views or access to nature, particular in nursing homes where residents may be very unwell, the use of natural colours and images of natural environments can play a role in aiding recuperation and lifting mood (see The effects of colour and the power of nature) .

Principle 8: Promote engagement with friends, relatives and staff

This is key for the well-being of most care home residents. As well as keeping families and friends together, in nursing homes, carers are seen as extended family.

Dementia-friendly environments should blend with existing buildings and not stand out as ‘special’ units.

  • Spaces should enable residents and visitors to use internal and external environments. These should be attractive, comfortable and encourage visitors to spend time and engage in meaningful activities, such as gardening.

Using complementary, warm colours, particularly wood shades may help reduce the anxiety that a clinical environment can cause and create visual harmony with the rest of the building.

The HBN also recommends a variety of spaces with a variety of character. This is important across all types of care homes as it enables residents to interact with others, spend time with their family, join in with activities or take quiet time alone.  We offer a large number of shades in both floors and walls to create the right mood and can work with you and your residents to help select the appropriate ones.

Principle 9: Provide good visibility and visual access

Help people with dementia make choices and find where they want to go, by making key places, such as a lounge, dining room, bedroom, kitchen and outdoor areas easily identifiable.

See way-finding

Principle 10: Promote privacy, dignity and independence

Although some care home residents may have health or additional needs, there is still an emphasis on living well and being independent. This is particularly important to us when developing floors and walls solutions. By reducing the risk of a slip, safety floors greatly improve the independence of care home residents. Because we offer homely finishes and non-clinical shades, residents may be unaware that they’re walking on safety flooring, further boosting confidence, and that’s just how we like it.

Considerations for dementia-friendly health and social care environments include

  • Wet rooms that make bathing a safer and less intrusive activity

Altro Pisces provides optimum lifetime sustained slip-resistance in wet and dry environments and whether a resident or staff member is wearing shoes or barefoot. Developed without a bobbled surface, it feels smoother to sensitive feet but its profile still feels reassuringly safe, helping to allay fears of slipping, plus it’s easier to clean.

  • Helping people maintain independence by using familiar building design, furniture, fittings and colours

Altro Whiterock Digiclad can be used to personalise spaces and demark areas to create familiarity

  • Activity areas for reminiscence which can improve mood and wellbeing, and promote social inclusion and the person as an individual with a unique life experience

Flooring that supports confident, safe movement

To ensure people are more comfortable with moving from one area to another, it can be preferable to install flooring with similar LRVs and shades throughout key areas. We offer a number of flooring solutions that allow this, encouraging more confident movement but minimising the risk of slips by offering the right solution for the right area. This is particularly important when moving from a bedroom or corridor into a bathroom. Our combination shades can also be matched easily with those offered by leading carpet providers although we would not recommend the use of carpet due to the hygiene challenges they create.

The real test for ensuring a contrast or similarity between surfaces is to look at the chosen images in grey-scale. This gives you a true view and shows that even shades that look totally different can appear exactly the same in certain light.

Residents’ choice

Having a range of appropriate solution to choose from allows personalisation, helping residents maintain a sense of ‘self’ and enabling them to have a wider choice when they are involved in choosing their own décor. The Altro Space Visualiser (LINK) can help residents see what their surroundings could look like.

HBN 08-02 also recommends  matt flooring finishes to promote movement and independence.

We offer a range of flooring with matt finishes, such as Altro Wood Safety, ensuring there is plenty of choice for new-builds or refurbishments, or to fit with existing décor. Additionally, Altro Pisces has a smoother profile than many wet environments’ flooring. Rough finishes can hurt feet, particularly amongst older people. It allows for a shuffling movement while preventing slips in a high risk environment.

Principle 11: Promote physical and meaningful activities

Have an interior design that is non-institutional and stimulates interaction.

Altro floors and walls are designed to be easy to clean and maintain whatever activities are planned. Altro Classic 25 for example is ideal for art rooms, and with a Pendulum Test Value (PTV) of ≥45, helps prevent slips when there’s the occasional spillage.

Our heavy duty safety flooring is ideal for areas where wheelchairs are used, making movement easy and minimising the chance of damage. Altro Fortis wall protection ensures walls look good long term, despite knocks and bumps from passing traffic.

Principle 12: Support diet, nutrition and hydration

Environments should include dining rooms with family-style layout and interior design.

Creating a home

While our solutions help keep residents, visitors and staff safe, they are also designed to help create a home, the most important thing of all. No one wants to live in a clinical, hospital environment: we can’t overestimate the impact that feeling at home can have on well-being.

We have a range of walls and floors solutions to create a homely environment and offer a choice of finishes and shades so you can create the exact look and mood you want. Our solutions have been designed with creating homes in mind, yet they are practical and, where needed, promote safety in every way that we can, without that being obvious to residents.

For specific guidance on home adaptations, find out more here.

Wood creates the look and feel of home. It can be warm and comforting but also cool and light. It’s on-trend and therefore what many of us choose for our own home, making it an obvious and popular choice for a care home, or home adaptation. Our wood-look solution, Altro Wood Safety, can run through most areas within a care home, helping encourage residents to move freely, and making product choice and installation easier to manage. There is also a choice of 20 shades, making it easy to find a suitable option and to match with walls. As well as looking great, with a PTV ≥36 for the lifetime of the flooring it also prevents slips, plus it offers the durability needed for busy areas where wheeled traffic is frequent.  We also have Altro Wood Safety Comfort, which, at 2.6mm thick, offers comfort underfoot, plus sound reduction. Available in 12 shades, it also offers plenty of flexibility when it comes to design.

Altro Pisces

We developed Altro Pisces, our wet environments solution for bare feet and shoes, specifically for environments where people live. It has a high-end, soft look, available in 16 shades including warm, classic and calming tones, all aimed at creating the type of bathroom you would feel comfortable bathing in. However, it also has a practical role to play: shoe and barefoot flooring is a must for wet environments in care homes, where carers often bathe residents, or residents want to be able to move independently with confidence. Add to this contaminants including water, shower gel and talcum powder, and there is a clear need for a specialist solution.

If you would like a different finish and additional colour options, take a look at Altro Aquarius, the original safety flooring for shoes and bare feet.

Altro Whiterock Satins

We have offered wall cladding solutions for over 30 years. In that time we have developed solutions that offer effective hygiene and wall protection for the healthcare sector, including care homes. While those running care homes can rest assured that they can have durable, easy-to-clean wall cladding, we have also designed our solutions with day-to-day living in mind. Altro Whiterock Satins is available in 27 contemporary and classic shades, from warm Citron to cool Mint. The result is a non-clinical look that can make a statement, or blend in with other décor; precisely the flexibility you would want when decorating your own home.

Altro can help achieve the ideal balance between aesthetics, safety and hygiene.

The effects of colour and the power of nature

It’s no surprise that colour plays an important role in creating a home. Altro flooring and wall cladding solutions can be used to create certain moods, stimulate or calm depending on the needs of the residents. The vast choice we offer also means that when residents choose their own décor, we have something to suit everyone.

There are no hard and fast rules on using colour, it’s about considering the needs and tastes of the particular residents. We do know:

  • Humans have an attachment to nature as our body is synced to the natural environment around us. It’s called Biophilia. It means we are more likely to resonate with colours which are linked to nature and this can help with psychological recuperation. In care homes this can be achieved through colour but also using images of nature on the walls, created with Altro Whiterock Digiclad.
  • Bright colours appeal to children and create stimulating, fun rooms however, for those with autism, oranges, reds and yellows can be overstimulating. They can cause an increase in heart rate and loss of temper. However, red can stimulate appetite which is important in residential care, so it’s about balance and being in tune with the residents’ needs. Using Altro Whiterock Splashbacks or using colour on the floor, rather than the walls, can be less overwhelming. It is recommended that learning areas or Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) rooms are a neutral grey so as not to distract from learning areas within the rooms, which tend to be brightly coloured.
  • For the aging eye, the yellowing of the eye lens means that the blue end of the spectrum is lost first so many care homes with older residents prefer neutral shades or those at the yellow/red end of the spectrum.

If you need to choose colours that complement your branding or overall colour scheme, please speak with your Altro Consultant, who will be able to help.

HBN 02-08 guidance on colour includes

  • Use different colour schemes between clinical and non-clinical areas
  • Choose colours that are visible to the eye of people living with dementia
  • Consider visual impairments and light reflectance when selecting the colour palette for specific areas
  • Use colour accents that promote appetite
  • For walls, colours in the red to yellow zone are more easily identifiable than blues and greens. Soft white works well as a base colour

For more information see wayfinding and support orientation and to see what our shades look like in-situ, take a look at the Altro space visualiser.

The role of acoustic and comfort flooring

Noise can affect recovery and well-being, as well as privacy. Designs that have good acoustics, along with natural light and ventilation, help create a positive, therapeutic atmosphere. For areas that do not need enhanced slip resistance we have Altro Serenade which absorbs sound up to 19dB, significantly reducing noise levels. As well as the general benefits of a quieter atmosphere, it can benefit care home residents affected by tinnitus and certain sensory sensitivities. At 3.9mm thick, it’s particularly suitable for sensory rooms where not only outside noise needs to be blocked, but residents sit on and move around the floor.

For areas where noise reduction is needed but wheelchairs, trolleys mean that rollability is key, we also offer Altro Orchestra, a 2.6mm floor that offers a level of sound reduction (up to 15db), plus comfort under foot.

As well as residents, staff, particularly those who spend a lot of time on their feet, will also benefit from a quiet, more comfortable work environment.

Renovating homes

In all care homes, disturbing residents for renovations can cause anxiety for residents and difficulties for staff. We know that the stress of moving out of a familiar room can affect some residents badly, to the point where they attempt to destroy their surroundings, risking injury as well as trauma.

We offer adhesive-free floors, which enable a quick turnaround, minimising the amount of time that room is out of action.

Because these products are adhesive-free, there are no associated odours which could cause residents, particularly those with dementia or autism, distress. We have a safety option, Altro XpressLay which, with a palette of 42 colours, can be matched to, or complement, Altro Walkway and Altro Pisces. We also offer Altro Cantata, a floor for areas that do not need enhanced slip resistance available in 16 soft-look shades. This offer modern, homely design choices for areas within residential homes where the risk of a slip is low, with all the benefits of an adhesive-free floor.

For specific guidance on home adaptations, find out more.

Practicalities; maintaining a home

Wear and tear is an issue for those responsible for maintenance plus it affects the way visitors judge the home, and how residents feel about it. In care homes wheelchairs, walking aids and crutches will be commonly used meaning that floors and walls are at a constant risk of damage.

Altro floors and walls solutions help protect surroundings from both feet and wheeled traffic, resulting in less maintenance and better aesthetics. We offer solutions that are designed to handle continuous use, and back this up with lengthy guarantees, life expectancies and technical support. If unsure on the best solution to deal with particular stresses, machinery, wheels or regular wear and tear, take a look at our product selector, or speak with your Altro representative.

For wall, door and corner protection, we have the Altro Fortis system. Easy to clean, impervious, resistant to bumps and with a lightly textured surface which camouflages scuffs; we call it the saviour of busy public areas.

For specific guidance on home adaptations, find out more.

Floor plan

The following floor plans show how Altro solutions work within a variety of care home rooms. For more information on choosing the right solutions for your installation, please take a look at our product selector.

Click an area in the floor plan

Treatment room

Altro Whiterock Digiclad to create non-clinical and calming surroundings

Community rooms and living areas

Altro Wood Safety Farmhouse Oak LRV 38

Altro Whiterock Digiclad and Altro Whiterock Satins to create pleasant, relaxing surroundings

W.C.

Altro Suprema Oatmeal LRV 38

Altro Whiterock Satins Linen LRV 83

Administration

Altro Wood Safety Washed Oak LRV 38

Altro Whiterock Satins Malva LRV 68

Altro Doorset in same colour as wall to discourage entrance

Laundry and sluice room

Altro Classic 25 Aster LRV 17

Altro Fortis Titanium Riviera LRV 64

Pool, spa and changing room

Altro Pisces Breakwater LRV 43

Altro Whiterock Satins Linen LRV 83

Service corridor

Altro Classic 25 Aster LRV 17

Altro Fortis Titanium Riviera LRV 64

Kitchen

Altro Whiterock White LRV 89

Altro Stronghold 30 Russet LRV 14

Contrast with flooring in adjacent areas to discourage entrance. Altro Stronghold 30 offers our highest rating for slip resistance (PTV ≥55), minimising risk in wet and greasy conditions

Dining area

Altro Suprema Oatmeal LRV 38

Altro Whiterock Digiclad

Outdoor area

Flooring chosen to match LRV in adjacent indoor area

Activity area

Altro Suprema Oatmeal LRV 38

Altro Whiterock Splashbacks Juicy Lucy LRV 20

Corridor

Altro Whiterock Digiclad

Help with way-finding and familiarity

Ensuite bathroom

Altro Aquarius Vole LRV 43

Altro Whiterock Satins Linen LRV 83

Bedroom

Altro Wood Safety Comfort Soft Oak LRV 38

Can feature bedhead in  Altro Whiterock Satins Citron LRV 80

Conservatory

Altro Suprema Oatmeal LRV 38

Multi-purpose room

Altro Suprema Oatmeal LRV 38

Altro Whiterock Digiclad