‘The Front Door’ project has been on the agenda for Bethanie Fields Aged Care facility in Eaton for six months, after the idea was given life during Dementia Awareness Month 2017.
As part of the memory-triggering project, the facilities 25 residents in the dementia wing have worked with staff, family and friends to develop a door motif to go on the door to their room.
Bethanie Occupational Therapist Kirsty Alexandratos says the residents and their families each chose their own unique door design, opting for motifs that may be similar to a house they lived in whilst growing up.
She says that the project drew inspiration from the Dementia Australia website as well as from one Bethanie team member who was alerted to the concept while visiting a loved one in the Netherlands.
“Dementia is a unique experience and everybody is different, so we are hoping that with this project, we can connect even more personally to every one of our residents and assist to bring back some cherished memories,” Ms Alexandratos explains.
“Not only will it assist with orientation but it will also replace the clinical atmosphere on our dementia specific wing to make it a more homely environment.
“Where residents were and families were unable to choose, we researched their favourite colours and traditional style doors from their hometowns.
Ms Alexandratos adds that the new door designs have already generated much discussion and reminiscence between residents and staff, with one resident, Elizabeth Bowron, a keen decorator enjoying the opportunity to change her door.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Ms Bowron says.
“I chose my door because I love lue - blue like the open sky - it goes to wherever you want to go. I love it.”
Dementia Australia Chief Executive Officer Maree McCabe has welcomed the introduction of the project into Australian aged care facilities, saying that it’s important to personalise and differentiate for people living with dementia.
“We have indeed heard of projects and initiatives like this and it’s very exciting to see it in action here in Australia,” Ms McCabe says.
“The environment can be a challenge for people living with dementia - especially with all doors painted the same so making it personalised and to distinguish it really helps.
“It’s a great concept and one that we would love to see grow across aged care nationwide.”