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Building Products July 2017

FLOORS AND FLOOR COVERINGS people with dementia and sight loss as something they are not. Flooring with a very sparkly, shimmery or glossy finish can be seen as a wet floor, particularly if accentuated by lighting. This may cause the resident or patient to change the way they move to accommodate the perceived slippery surface, could cause a slip or they may simply avoid that area all together. Large contrasting secondary flecks or speckles in a floor design can also problematic for those with dementia and reduced vision as they could be seen as something to pick up off the ground. This kind of constant distraction could also people to lose their balance and fall, thereby causing injury. A solid looking colour or a design with subtle flecks which blend into the base colour of the floor are a much more suitable choice. Navigating around a building is another difficult aspect for someone living with dementia, so a continuous flooring surface (or the illusion of one) in combination with appropriate signage and wayfinding is ideal. Choosing flooring products for adjacent areas that have similar tones and light reflectance values (LRV) that are close to each other is important. In architecture, LRV is a measure of visible light that is reflected from a surface when illuminated by a light source, with values closer to 0 being on the black scale and 100 being white. In areas used by residents and patients, flooring products with 54 BUILDING PRODUCTS | JULY 2017 similar LRV values should be used consistently throughout, as a larger tonal contrast may be perceived as a false step and cause anxiety and potential accidents. However, a strong contrast in the floor’s tone can also be used effectively in an interior design scheme to distinguish areas that should not be entered, for example staff only areas or drugs rooms. Good tonal contrast (a difference of at least 30 points in LRV values) between the floor, wall and other elements in a room is also beneficial to someone with dementia and sight related issues. For example, a chair, hand rail or doorway should have a high level of contrast against the floor so it can easily be located. The reflectance of light is also important to consider in relation to floor finishes. A matt floor finish is always preferable, as a shiny surface (which again could be perceived as wet) will strongly reflect any overhead lights, which can be troubling for people with heightened glare sensitivity due to sight issues, dementia related or otherwise. The flooring’s colour should also be carefully selected to create a relaxing ambience, as anything too bright may feel overbearing to someone with sight loss and dementia, whilst anything too subdued will make a room feel two dimensional. Deeper and richer colours, such as the tones within a warm wood effect vinyl flooring design, <<< Continued from page 53 will add depth to a room and can help someone to perceive the size and shape of a room and aid wayfinding. Very dark colours should also be avoided as they can be mistaken as holes to fall into, or may incite feelings of imprisonment within a resident or patient. Floor designs that replicate wood and stone are great choices for dementia friendly spaces as these natural materials are recognisable and familiar to people with dementia, aiding reminiscence. Wood and stone effect vinyl flooring which are not too busy in their overall design can help create a comforting and inviting environment, avoiding the typical ‘clinical’ hospital look which may cause feelings of anxiety. Vinyl flooring manufacturers have mastered the art of replicating wood and stone materials, adding features like subtle wood grain and surface texture for a more authentic appearance in a wide variety of designs. Flooring provides an attractive canvas onto which a complementary design space can be built. When you attempt to see flooring through the eyes of someone with visual impairment and then consider the confusion which people with dementia often feel, you can easily see how the wrong flooring choice could create a more distressing, isolating and potentially dangerous environment. Tom Rollo is Marketing Manager at Polyflor


Building Products July 2017
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