A couple of months ago I wrote a post about murals in health care occupancies and a change to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code. I just read an article in Australian Ageing Agenda about the practice of disguising doors in memory care units, and how this affects the patients…
She told me: “It concerns me that we have to use trickery in buildings for people with dementia. Life must be bewildering enough with dementia, especially since many people are in a very unfamiliar environment.
“Often they have no idea what a modern care home or hospital looks like, so have no notion where they are.”
Mary also says that “while there is no research to support this, we need to treat people with dementia properly as adults.”
So what’s the alternative? Mary’s starting point is “it depends where the door is.”
She says: “There are many problems with fire doors, especially if they are at the end of a corridor and have a window. The light attracts people and the bar sometimes says ‘PUSH BAR TO OPEN’ – what do we expect people to do? It is often made worse because there is no easy access to fresh air and outdoor spaces, and few activities to keep people engaged. The answer to this one is to avoid putting fire doors at the end of corridors, put them at the side. If they are there anyway, then the sign on the bar needs to be removed (this is allowed in the UK if there is a green sign above the door). Making the window look more like a window helps, as do distractions on the wall at either side. Surely this is better than a fake bookcase?”