“My door is blue!” What does this mean in nursing homes?

You may have heard the advertising slogan “We did not invent the doors. But we realized they mattered.” As crazy as it sounds, interior design and every little detail, part of the overall atmosphere is extremely important in nursing homes and today, we will tell you why. You will also understand why the placement of several beds, the provision of medical personnel and food is not enough in one home to provide care, harmony and quality of life for our elderly relatives.

In the late 1990s, a movement began in the USA that aims to deinstitutionalize nursing homes. The concept of human-centered care focuses on the needs of the individual rather than those of the institution and gives him the freedom to decide for himself which is the best way to respond to those needs. As part of this movement, open spaces, rooms resembling the atmosphere of family coziness and the amenities tailored to the different needs of residents are becoming popular. Along with home assistants, the residents have an environment in which they create communities, friendships and, most of all, continue their lives – sometimes much better than in their own homes.

In our country, this concept already exists under the name Blocks Health and Social Care (Blocks). The complex of 13 houses offers the necessary spaces, amenities and high-tech equipment to meet the specific needs of its patients and residents and at the same time make them feel at home. Each element in Blocks is in place, placed with the specific goal of maintaining the quality of life of older people, to promote their independence and individuality.

“My door is blue”

Studies in recent decades have shown how the interior environment affects a person’s thinking, behavior and emotions, especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. That’s why nursing homes are changing the approach, putting the person at the center. The traditional room, which usually accommodates several people has been completely transformed into a closer to home, cozy bedroom. Residents feel extra relaxed and confident when they find their own items in their room, when they have the opportunity to furnish, add family photos, painting or other works of art.

For example, the doors of each of the rooms in the individual houses in Blocks are in different color for easier and faster orientation of the residents. They are specially designed in two parts (the upper and lower halves open separately) and thus, provide an opportunity for staff to observe residents, but also preserve their personal space during rest and sleep. This also allows residents to feel connected to others while maintaining distance and control.

An extremely important element in the personal rooms of the residents is the high-tech beds. Beds, which include certain functionality needed by nurses, usually make us feel like we are in the hospital. However, in adult care, they offer technology, comfort and design close to home. Sentida beds are basically universal low beds for medical care but at the same time they have 4 different levels of height and are designed to prevent falls and reach a high level of care and comfort.

If the kitchen is a social hub, it should look, smeel and sound like home

Homes for the elderly usually include double or private rooms arranged around a common living room, dining room or kitchen, plus extra space for home assistants and access to a safe open space which should also create a sense of calm. Medical equipment should not be visible in these rooms because it often looks unfriendly and can disorient people with dementia, for whom it is extremely important to feel the environment personal and friendly. What matters is the abundant daylight, natural light, instead of artificial lighting, sofas, bookshelves, television – all that is part of the normal home environment, inviting relaxation and rest.

Especially in memory care facilities, it is mandatory to practice activities that stimulate older people to work on their cognitive skills and enjoy their hobbies. Simple things often help such as listening to music in a home atmosphere, reading or a window overlooking nature. This is one of the reasons for the location of Blocks. The view of Vitosha Mountain calms down and at the same time provides the residents with a quiet environment, isolated from the city traffic.

According to research, designers of memory care facilities should think of the environment as a healing space. The aim is for the premises to have a positive effect on the symptoms of dementia, namely by creating a person’s sense of self-confidence, belonging and safety. Satisfying these needs helps to recreate the feeling of comfort that one feels for one’s own home or the so-called attachment to a specific place. And what makes a house a home? When people move, it is as much an emotional process as it is physical, so it is important to give them the opportunity for the same emotional attachment to the new place.

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