Richard Woodward, General Manager of apetito’s Care Home division looks at how to create the right ambience and dining environment for residents with dementia.

For those living with dementia the dining environment plays a crucial factor at mealtimes.  Too many stimulations and distractions can be overwhelming, which prevents an enjoyable dining experience, in turn reducing the opportunity for good nutritional intake, which can affect quality of life.

Some simple changes to the dining room design can be an effective way to improve the overall dining experience.

The key consideration is to create a calm and welcoming environment, that is safe and easy for residents with dementia to navigate.

We recommend care homes stick to neutral colour tones that add warmth but are not over stimulating. Busy brightly patterned wallpaper can act as a distraction to resident when eating, as well as making the room difficult for those living with dementia to navigate through the room.

Having neutral painted walls with maybe one single ‘feature’ wall is a great way to incorporate colour without being confusing and will also help residents to determine the space of a room because of its obvious contrast compared to the other walls in the room.

The careful use of artwork and pictures on the walls is another way to gently add some colour and stimulation to the room.  Choose pieces which tie in nicely with the chosen theme for the room – using colours that coordinate with the feature wall.  Most importantly, keep things minimal – with just one or two large statement pieces on the wall.  Beautiful pictures of food can be a good approach to help encourage appetites.

In general, colour perception diminishes with age as vision gets weaker, so it becomes harder to judge the space of a room. The use of colour contrast through paint is an effective tool to help everyone interpret and navigate the physical environment of the room.

Whenever possible, paint should be in a matte finish and not gloss. This is because a glossy surface can look wet or slippery, which can be very confusing or distressing for residents.

How food is served and presented can make a lot of difference too. For example, bright multi-patterned plates can be confusing for residents living with dementia.  Plain white plates are much easier to showcase food in a clean, interesting way.

Offering varied menus that include favourite and nostalgic options helps to encourage interest in mealtimes. If you’re introducing new dishes, make sure you have a menu which includes description of the food, so residents know exactly what they’re choosing to eat.

apetito is proud to not only create food that is enjoyed and shared but also work in partnership with care homes to develop an excellent dining experience which ensures the well-being of residents.

Discover more about apetito’s care homes service by visiting https://apetito.link/CHMag