One room that everyone uses, and where safety and privacy is important is the washroom. A dementia-friendly bathroom is one where simple but careful consideration of design can reduce the barriers that people with dementia can face in carrying out daily living activities, greatly improving their safety and preserving their independence for as long as possible.
We were careful to design the washrooms in such a way that they use traditional fixtures, like a towel rack and hand towel rather than a paper towel dispenser, and a toilet with a handle rather than a button. We also made sure to design one of our washrooms with extra space, not only to be wheelchair accessible, but also to have room for a family caregiver if assistance with toileting or personal care is required.
What we learned:
A. Choose a toilet seat that is a contrasting colour to the toilet, the floor and the walls. This will help with cueing in instances where the person with dementia is experiencing diminished perception. We also chose a soft close lid to reduce noise and confusion.
B. Place the towel rack close to the sink so that it's in eye's view when washing one's hands and chose a towel that contracts with the wall.
C. Keep extra toilet paper in sight, rather than under the sink
D. Place the toilet paper holder on the wall rather than using a holder that is free standing on the floor so that it is not a tripping or falling hazard. Ensure the holder is placed within eye's view, and not too far of a reach when sitting on the toilet to prevent a potential fall.
E. If a person with dementia is bothered or confused by their image in the mirror, consider placing a blind that can be lowered on the mirror.
F. Clearly label garbage cans, and ensure they are located away from the toilet so they are not confused with the toilet, and so that soiled toilet paper does not get placed in them by mistake.
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