Dementia friendly environments VOG residential homes

Vale of Glamorgan

Residential homes in the Vale of Glamorgan made a commitment to become more dementia friendly five years ago.

Their care homes built in the 1960s posed a great challenge to meeting modern day requirements.  The authority’s own homes at Ty Dyfan, Cartref Porhceri, Southway and Ty Dewi Sant were facing a projected 130% increase in demand in the 85+ year population in the Vale of Glamorgan over two decades.

Dementia friendly lifts were installed at Porthceri and Ty Dyfan. These lifts play an integral role in helping to maintain the safety of residents and user-friendly and accessible lifts can help to increase levels of mobility and independence.  The lift interiors are pastel coloured, not reflective or shiny.

The Ty Dyfan reablement unit was awarded funding to create a designated area for care with four beds, shower and treatment rooms, and an enclosed balcony area for exclusive use.  This has significantly improved the outcomes for people who after a period of reablement return home with a reduced need for an ongoing care package.

A further grant allowed the development of a dementia friendly environment and with setting up a COVID quarantine facility to accommodate people who required support during the crisis pre/post hospital and, due to their dementia, were unable to comply with isolation requirements. Ty Dyfan accommodates 18 residents and provides a respite /emergency service to three people at any one time and a six bed reablement facility.  

Without adequate funding to purchase land and build bespoke new accommodation, local authorities are dependent on grants like the Integrated Care Fund to change and upgrade current facilities.  Improving hygiene protection areas is also a priority to ensure our facilities are able to combat infection and protect people during pandemics.

Marijke Jenkins, Operational Manager

Marijke Jenkins, explains:

“We introduced dementia friendly design principles at all of our centres following an audit by Worcester University.
They criticised practically everything as our homes were practically unchanged from the time they were built in the middle of the last century. The most recent transformation has been at Ty Dewi Sant and it has been particularly pleasing to hear directly from residents and staff how much of a difference the refurbishments have made.  

“In the corridors we’ve removed strong or swirly patterns as they can be disorientating and appear to move and re-decorated with neutral colours. Signage is clearer making areas and places easily identifiable to people living with dementia. Flooring is matching in different areas to avoid variations that can lead to hesitancy, slips, trips or falls.   Lighting is bright and uniform, and the lifts have a diffusing ceiling to minimise shadows which can be misinterpreted as holes or objects. Mirrors or reflecting surfaces can be interpreted as a stranger so we removed those.  All lighting, lift, door controls are new as they must be easy and intuitive to use.  We have restored people’s independence and freedom to roam around the homes.”

Sarah Waller CBE  Worcester University said:

“Worcester University Association for Dementia Studies completed an audit of all of the local authority run centres in the Vale of Glamorgan and made recommendations for improvement. We Through applying dementia friendly design principles, the refurbishments have transformed the venues and the feedback has been great with everyone including staff saying what a difference it’s made. The project teams maximised their budgets and came up with creative approaches in using colour and artworks in the corridors and communal spaces. We were delighted to hear that further resources have been secured to continue the environmental improvements.”

Cartref Porthceri’s physical environment also reflected the era it was built with a complex layout and brutalist. Improvements included installing artworks of local places of interest to make the space interesting and encourage reminiscence.  They are large images chosen by the residents with Ask Frank, a Barry business that manufactures and designs safety signs. The artworks chosen have had a positive impact and staff often see residents reminiscing in front of them. One resident, a former road manager with the band Thin Lizzy, chose a picture of a concert. Long term and respite care beds means people with dementia are able to remain living at Cartref Porthceri for as long as they need to.

In Ty Dewi Dewi Sant residential home in Penarth, a grant has helped create three dementia friendly living areas, one of which is a designated ten bed unit for people who have dementia. It is anticipated that Ty Dewi Sant will become the designated EMI facility on this site for people who need a high level of care.  

The manager commented:

“The buildings’ contemporary look is complemented by new, modern and mobility-friendly flooring. The improvements have encouraged residents to use the space more independently and actively, as well as changing the whole feel of the building. 

“The new flooring which was laid through the home has aided mobility independence by creating a seamless transition between spaces with no trip hazards or friction caused by carpets. Falls have significantly reduced but we are unable to provide a percentage as our occupancy figures are down due to COVID and we can’t accurately compare with previous years. Residents are very complimentary of the refurbishments despite having to endure significant disruption.”

“I frequently see residents just stand in front of the artworks chatting and they are proving to be a great reminiscence resource”

“I didn’t like having to leave my room for so long but it was all worth it, it’s beautiful and so much easier to get around.” 

“When I get lost, I just look for the picture of Penarth Pier and I know where I am.”

“I can find a toilet easier now they are all yellow and they are much nicer inside.” 

Quotes from residents

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