Colour scheme • Dementia unit

Colour scheme for a Dementia Unit – This project involved providing evidence-based colour insight to the team responsible for the design of the Fraser McDonald Geriatric Psychiatric Unit. This dementia unit is located at Auckland City Hospital, Auckland District Health Board (ADHB).

The design of the unit, which will include 15 beds and incorporate OT, social and communal areas, revolves around the special needs of people living with cognitive impairment and dementia.

I met with the team on Friday 28 October at Auckland City Hospital, including Tania Cottew (Project Manager, ADHB Facilities & Development), Alasdair Nelson (Design Manager, ADHB Facilities & Development), and Dr Richard Worrall (Clinical Director for Mental Health of Older People, ADHB).

Colour/contrast strategies for this Unit have a number of diverse but related aims:

  • Colour schemes can help create a calm, homelike ambience
  • Colour choices can allow for individual personalisation of door colours, etc
  • Colours can enhance and enliven common areas while minimising visual ‘noise’, one of the sensory challenges faced by people with dementia
  • Effective colour contrast enhances environmental visual literacy, making the built environment easier to ‘read’ and understand
  • Colour can support strategies to engage patients and lift the spirit in facilities that may seem unfamiliar, hostile and threatening

It’s imperative when designing a colour scheme for a dementia unit that designers focus on resident needs as a priority as well as those of staff, carers and visitors.

Link to Auckland City Hospital here.