Signs designed for people with dementia
People with dementia respond well to visual signs and particular colours. If a care home has clear signage residents are able to find their way to the bathroom and to their own room themselves helping to maintain their independence for much longer, which also helps them to preserve their dignity and self-respect. This also frees up staff time.
Find, a Leeds-based company that designs and manufactures signs for care homes and hospitals to improve the living environment for people with dementia has teamed up with Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to adapt this technology. With their combined experience and expertise they have now created a brand new range of signs specifically to assist people with learning disabilities and autism.
Peter Rose, founder and director of Find, said he was thrilled with this new development. “This is a fascinating new avenue for us. Our products are already used in thousands of hospitals and care homes throughout the UK so we know how well they work.”
Karen Clayton, Dementia Environment Consultant at Find, has been instrumental in developing the partnership with Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. She added: “For people with learning disabilities the signs have to be adapted as the images do not transfer exactly. We use our signs, which have an easy to read font, a clear style and colours, with images that have been specially created by Dean Milner-Bell. The new designs are now being used in the Ventures Therapy Service in Leeds.”
Dean is the Accessible Information Designer for both the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and ‘Easy On The i’, an organisation established to create free accessible images, signs and information for people with learning disabilities. With his background in graphic design and his 20 years’ experience working with people who have learning disabilities, Dean is in a perfect position to create the most effective images for the new signs.
“The partnership with Find has been fantastic. It’s been great to work with Peter and Karen, who are both passionate and enthusiastic about their work. This partnership has made it possible to put a high quality stamp on the images that I produce, instead of just laminating a print-out. These signs look great, and why shouldn’t people with learning disabilities have great signs too?
“I think people in the NHS will be visiting Ventures just to see these signs and asking why they don’t have them, and why this hasn’t been done before. The scope for improving the environment for anybody who may have difficulties reading conventional signs, which can be very confusing in a medical setting, is huge. This will hopefully be rolled out everywhere. It’s an exciting development,” added Dean.
Debbie Walton, Manager of the Venture Therapy Service, said they were very happy with the signs. “These have been made specifically for our service but these images will transfer to other sites. I’ve taken photographs of the different rooms and Dean has drawn images based on the photographs. This means that when a person comes here for the first time they will know what to expect when they open a door into another room.
“This type of user-friendly information is used on the letters we send out to people, which then corresponds to the signs when they arrive, which in turn relates directly to the facilities here. This helps to take some of the anxiety out of their visit, especially if it’s their first time.
“Hopefully the other learning disability services in the Trust will also adopt these signs. If they’re used throughout they’ll become more familiar and more recognisable to people,” Debbie added.
Find has developed a range of products that aid orientation, and crockery that supports healthy eating to help people retain their dignity, reconnect them to their physical world and promote healthier, happier lives. Many of these products are suitable for adaptation to help people with learning disabilities. The yellow dining crockery is particularly popular, with people feeling part of the same group with the same coloured crockery.