See Through Their Eyes blog #1– The Product Manager

See Through Their Eyes blog #1– The Product Manager

In the first in our series of guest blogs about inclusive design for dementia, Maria Morgan, Product Manager at Gradus, reflects on our long history of work in the healthcare sector, and how today we are at the forefront of creating products for dementia.

There are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, many of whom are elderly and also have eyesight issues. Everyone would agree that these people should be able to live decent and happy lives with some measure of participation in society – yet the sad truth is, if our public buildings do not create a dementia-friendly environment, this cannot happen.

At Gradus, we are at the forefront of ensuring that people with dementia are not shut out from society by the threat of slips, trips and falls. We have designed a wide range of dementia-friendly products – from handrails that offer support to wall protection that aids wayfinding, stair nosings that help prevent slips to floorcovering combinations of the right colour contrast. This draws on our 50-plus years in the healthcare sector and, in recent years, our increasing focus on inclusive design.

When first considering the need to be dementia-inclusive in our product design, it was clear to us that we would need to work with an organisation at the forefront of research into dementia. We therefore teamed up with the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling, an international organisation with more than 25 years’ experience in improving the lives of people with dementia through the development of research-led design principles.

Working with the DSDC’s team of clinical specialists, we have ensured that our products meet the following requirements for dementia-inclusivity:

- Helping to encourage familiarity

- Reducing stress and anxiety

- Creating an intimate domestic scale

- Easily intelligible in design, offering clear visibility and multiple cues while minimising distractions

- Easy to use and encouraging interaction and activity

As a result of this work, the DSDC has certified a range of products as suitable for use in buildings used by people with dementia. This includes our Carezone carpet (a brand of Gerflor), which was rated 1a by the centre, a wide range of our flooring accessories, and our wall cladding sheets SureProtect Endure®, SureProtect Design® and SureProtect Pure®.

Not only this, but we now have a thorough knowledge of how our products should be used to create a dementia-friendly environment with regard to colour, light and contrast. This allows us to advise specifiers and designers in a way that ensures they will not create a design scheme that could potentially lead to trips and falls for people with the condition.

Using the knowledge that we have gained from working with  the team at Stirling University we have created a digital tool that will enable designers to design for dementia using our product range to create a complete design scheme. The idea is that this will provide peace of mind for designers and architects that their building designs are compliant – something that can often be a difficult and time-consuming task.

When it comes to designing products for dementia, there is never a time to relax and pat ourselves on the back. We know we must always strive to keep abreast of the latest scientific and technological developments to continue delivering the best service possible, as this is the only way that the thousands of people living with dementia in this country will be able to participate fully in society.

Speak to us for expert advise about how to design for independant living and inclsuive design, including dementia, on 0808 196 5640

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