Turfcote care home is presently undergoing a general refurbishment that’s due to end in May. Mostly we’re working to brighten up the place with a new coat of paint, new carpets and sandblasting of the outer walls but we’re also making some revolutionary changes that will really improve the quality of life for our residents with memory loss. We’re turning the three lounge/dining areas in our specialist dementia care unit into themed relaxation spaces that stimulate positive memories. The new areas are being redeveloped based on ideas found in the University of Stirling design standards which are considered the gold standard for people with memory loss. As well as loads of clever minor touches that make life easier for our residents with dementia the rooms are all themed and have a variety of different objects and pictures to stimulate happy memories. The three themes are beach, garden and cinema. The beach room has pictures of deckchairs, ice creams and fish and chips to evoke happy memories of seaside visits. After all who doesn’t like a trip to the beach! The large windows open out onto a safe outdoor area that is also beach themed with sand and pebbles to act as physical memory triggers. The garden room has a large garden mural to bring the outdoors inside on even the worst of days. In nice weather residents can enter a walled sensory garden with raised potting beds and remember days spent sitting in their own garden watching the hours pass by. The cinema room has walls plastered with classic Hollywood stars like Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe to bring a little glamour and excitement to Turfcote. All three rooms act as memory triggers, providing stimulus that helps our residents to recall things. This is hugely beneficial for people with dementia as the mental stimulation can help reduce the decline of cognitive functions. It also calms them and evokes positive emotions of trips to the seaside, days spent sitting in the sunshine or nights out at the pictures! The sensory gardens are especially important. The health benefits of getting outside are extensive. As well as all the benefits of getting some vitamin D from the sun and all the normal health benefits you’d associate with a nice walk outdoors, exercise has been shown to be effective at reducing cognitive decline as well. Studies have shown that 10 – 15 minutes aerobic walking three times a week for people with Alzheimer’s disease resulted in significant benefits in their ability to communicate, reduced stress levels and increased self esteem, allowing for activity and sociability. And for those who are less active – just watching and enjoying the activity of others and the daily changes of light, shade, sun and clouds can be beneficial. Eating outside, reading a newspaper, enjoying a cup of tea and chatting or being on one’s own are all pleasant things to do no matter your age. Our sensory gardens combine memory triggers that evoke positive feelings with all the benefits of the great outdoors in an environment that is safe and stress free for people with dementia. We’re really proud of this redevelopment. Turfcote was already a wonderful home for anyone but these changes will make life even better for all our residents.