To a person living with dementia or other neurological disease, the shower/bath room, can present specific distress triggers; falling, flooding and scalding are predominant fears that can lead to reluctance or even withdrawal in maintaining personal care and hygiene.
Poor personal hygiene will have some undesirable outcomes; skin irritations and pressure sores can become infected and a higher frequency of UTIs, and perhaps incontinence, can create a vicious cycle of ill-health. This can detrimentally affect mood and behaviour, self-esteem and general well-being – possibly culminating in withdrawal or self-exclusion from shared activities, which may further undermine mental health, but also add to the caregiver burden.
Enabling elderly and dementia care residents with more shower confidence, whether alone or assisted, improves personal hygiene and aids physical wellness, whilst their greater independence promotes feelings of accomplishment – vitally important for motivation, sustaining self-esteem and good mental health.
As we age, we may experience declining mobility and stability, impaired vision and cognitive function. Neurological disease such as Dementia and Parkinsons will add further sensory and memory loss as well as difficulties with communication.
Design guidelines for dementia care environments have been developed to aid independence and thus compensate for declining visual ability, which commonly includes reduced contrast sensitivity and colour perception, decreasing depth perception, diminishing visual field and acuity (sharpness of image).
Dementia design guidelines therefore advocate light, well-lit spaces (without glare) with good tonal contrast between floor, walls and key features such as sanitaryware, grab rails, shower fittings and seat. Colour choice is also important – as perception of blue and greens diminishes during ageing, becoming more washed-out. Yellow, orange and red are lasting colours, i.e. they will be perceived relatively longer into older age. Yellow, a bright and vibrant mood-lifting colour, sadly does not have enough inherent tonal contrast against the recommended paler backgrounds. Although tonally it gives good contrast, red is often associated with heat and danger and therefore is perhaps inappropriate for a potentially distressing environment. For optimised inclusivity, a deep and vivid orange surpasses both red and yellow for strong visibility, contrast and mood-effects and hence has been incorporated into Horne’s specialist shower packages for dementia care.
A Deep Orange Horne grab (and riser) rail can help to alleviate the fear of falling. The integral approved Type 3 thermostatic shower valve, which accurately controls the warm water temperature at a safe and comfortable level, can lessen any fear of scalding. Fear of flooding can be eased by the handset and hose arrangement; it’s easier to direct to flow and includes an integral flow regulator that governs the flowrate to an optimal 8 litres per minute, thus avoids any overwhelming deluge. Further information on Horne’s inclusive range can be viewed at https://www.horne.co.uk/Included