Anybody entering the dementia-specific area at Braemar Village in Willagee could be forgiven for thinking they were walking into a rainforest.

Depicted from floor to ceiling on the double doors are huge images of established trees and plants, dappled in sunlight.

“We wanted to create a calming visual experience,” says Dementia Consultant Michelle Harris-Allsop, who adds that the aim of the images was to provide residents living with dementia a stimulating and peaceful environment within their ‘home’ setting.

“For people living with a cognitive or physical disability, sensory experiences play an essential role in daily living and this applies especially to how we interpret space,” adds Ms Harris-Allsop.

“As people’s cognitive ability declines in dementia and memory fades, what remains are sensations to the environment, and the new door we have selected will work well in supporting a bright and friendly living space.”

The doors have been specifically designed to stimulate the senses of residents with dementia, something that staff at the facility wanted to do following research which demonstrated how multi-sensory environments have been shown to be beneficial for elderly people with sensory impairment and cognitive limitations.

“People with dementia can benefit from a variety of sensory stimuli and often a relaxing environment can relieve frustration, anxiety and stress,” adds Ms Harris-Allsop.    “The light lemon and pale green colours very much support sensory relaxation for residents.”

Since 1952, Braemar Presbyterian Care has been offering care and friendship to the elderly in Western Australia. Braemar currently operates three residential care facilities, providing care and support to over 200 people. Braemar Care’s philosophy is one of Relationship Centred Care, which supports the relationships that exist and develop between staff, volunteers, residents and their families.