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Decorating for Dementia: Your Checklist for choosing Dementia-Friendly Fabrics and Soft Furnishings

  • By Beth Lewin
  • •  Nov 11, 2021

Reading time:3 minutes

Even when Beth Lewin was studying for her degree in Fine Art, she had a strong interest in the therapeutic qualities of art and design. Now, as design studio manager for leading textiles manufacturer Evans, she has deepened her knowledge and last year completed the University of Stirling’s CPD course in ‘Design and Dementia’.

Fabrics play an important role in creating a dementia-friendly home environment. Curtains, bedding and soft furnishings can make a huge difference at a comparatively modest outlay. Beth offers her advice about what to look for:

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Checklist for Dementia-friendly Fabrics and Soft Furnishings:

  1. Avoid patterns where both the scale and the motif are realistically represented. This can confuse someone with dementia who might, for example, try to pick a life-size flower from a fabric
  2. Avoid shiny and reflective fabrics: choose matt fabrics rather than satin, silk or velvet
  3. Choose reversible fabrics – patterns that work well for someone living with early stage dementia might become confusing or disturbing as their dementia advances so aim for a plain reverse side on items such as bed throws and pillows
  4. Be cautious with tartan! Although it is associated with traditional cosiness, the combination of a pattern with high contrast colours can be agitating
  5. Oversized florals and leaves in natural shades can often work really well
  6. Ensure the fabrics you choose can be washed at 60 degrees
  7. Fabrics are now available that are antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral and this can be a useful part of your infection control regime
  8. Don’t forget that residential care settings must meet a higher standard of fire retardancy – most high street products do not conform to this higher standard. Look for compliance with standards BS5867 part 2 (Curtains), BS7176 (Furniture & Upholstery), and BS7177 (Mattresses)
  9. As with all design choices, if they are made with the person they will be better received and contribute to better care outcomes
  10. Don’t forget family members have a stake. Taking time to hear their views and exchange knowledge about the design choices will help to ensure a happy outcome for all

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Watch out for the launch of 5 gorgeous bedding designs that Beth has designed due to land early 2022, that work particularly well for people living with dementia.


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