Memory care facilities often struggle to find a way to keep patients with dementia from eloping – leaving the facility unsupervised.  Paul Goldense of Goldense Building Products just asked me about this application, and then I found this photo sent by Ken Grayling of ISE Ltd:

Memory Care Bookcase Doors

In case you’re getting ready to point out that this may not be the egress side (no exit sign) or that it appears to have a lock on it so it may be the access side, I am only using the photo as an example of what Paul Goldense described to me – an adhesive-backed mural of a bookcase covering the egress side of an egress door in a memory care unit.

For those of us concerned with egress requirements, disguising the egress side of a door is a questionable method of preventing elopement, since egress doors must be readily distinguishable.  As of the 2009 editions,  both the International Building Code and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code include provisions for locking doors on these health care units (and others) using fail safe locks.  There are several criteria that must be met (outlined in this article) in order for fail safe locks to be used.  Here’s another blog post that I wrote about this issue.

As I researched the use of disguised doors in memory care units, I found that this is not an uncommon practice.  Here are links to some of the information I found:

Healthcare Interpretations Task Force (includes the examples below on page 16)

Disguised Doors

And some other examples of disguised doors (click the image to go to the image location site):

The Talking Walls Wheat Field  The Talking Walls Garden

Bird House 

Door Mural  Patient Room Door Mural

St. Marys  Vancouver Health

What do you think?  Should disguised doors be allowed in memory care units?  

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