Specifier Review
Altro floors & walls set the standard for dementia-friendly wards at Salisbury District Hospital

Altro floors & walls set the standard for dementia-friendly wards at Salisbury District Hospital

A package of Altro floors and walls has been used to create an optimum environment of safety, calmness and wellbeing for dementia patients on a general ward at Salisbury District Hospital.

The improvements to Redlynch Ward are the first phase of a wider programme that will see Altro products used for future modernisation work on general wards at Salisbury District Hospital, where patients with dementia may need to be treated.

Altro has developed product ranges and colours specifically designed for use with people who have dementia. This has come about through close co-operation with the University of Stirling’s renowned Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC), to gain a greater understanding of how the physical environment impacts on those with dementia.

Redlynch Ward at Salisbury District Hospital comprises two separate units, and having been in use for over 20 years they were due for modernisation. Phase one of the project was to refurbish one of the units, and specifying the walls and floors to meet the variety of complex requirements was the task of the hospital’s ArtCare design team, headed up by Lesley Meaker.

“Life for dementia patients can be frustrating, confusing and distressing,” explained Lesley. “It was our aim to create an environment tailored to their needs – a truly dementia-friendly ward – one that would help to minimise the stresses that they suffer and make their lives more manageable.

“In refurbishing this first unit we also wanted to set a standard, a universal principle – a template – that we could replicate elsewhere in the knowledge that it is the best possible environment for mental healthcare.

“The parameters for dementia healthcare environments are wide and varied and we had a whole raft of considerations. The layout of the ward is complex and potentially confusing, so our overarching aim was to improve orientation for patients and create a clear, uncluttered and easy to navigate space.

“Floors must to be very safe underfoot – especially when wet – slip-resistant and sparkle-free, so as not to confuse people with dementia. Colours need to be neutral, with no patterns or ambiguous designs that can potentially upset patients, and finishes must be matt and muted. There also needs to be good contrast between floors and walls.

“But to make the space look less clinical and more welcoming we wanted to bring nature inside, by using natural-looking designs and products, wood effects, images of trees and flowers etc. And of course all the products need to be easy to clean and maintain long-term.

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“There was a lot to think about in our product selection, but one thing we were sure of right from the start was that it had to be Altro. We have used their products very successfully for many years and we were confident that their superb product quality and choice would be perfect for this project.

“Before we made our final choices we shortlisted some ideas, held staff consultations, created mood boards, and generally talked to a lot of people and gathered opinions. The end result was very carefully thought through and comprised five different Altro products – each one selected for its specific qualities and strengths.”

For the ward’s main corridor, Lesley and her team specified Altro XpressLayTM safety flooring. The world’s first adhesive-free, truly sustainable safety floor, Altro XpressLay contains recycled material, can be lifted and reused and is 100% recyclable after installation, and at the end of its life.

This highly durable, slip-resistant flooring is ideal for high-traffic areas and comes in a range of 42 colours, with plain or chipped options. Altro Easyclean Maxis PUR Technology ensures the product stays look good long-term.

“We chose Altro XpressLay because it was so quick to install, just a few hours, and this meant we didn’t have to close the other ward while the corridor was out of action,” said Lesley. No adhesives means a much quicker time to install Altro XpressLay, perfect for busy areas like corridors where you need to use the floor as quickly as possible. Like all Altro safety flooring, Altro XpressLay has lifetime sustained slip resistance, giving peace of mind for safety for years and years to come.

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Altro Wood SmoothTM flooring was specified for the ward’s main circulation area. This new wood-look smooth flooring brings warmth to any environment. It is easy to maintain and can be welded to provide a hygienic surface, making it ideal for areas where infection control and high standards of cleanliness are required.

“Altro Wood enabled us to create a wood-effect flooring to add a natural, warm touch to the surroundings,” explained Lesley. “We selected two colours – Flaxen Oak and Classic Cherry – to delineate a staff area within the ward using the flooring rather than walls or barriers. It is very effective.”

The ward’s six en suite bathrooms were fitted with Altro Whiterock SatinsTM wall cladding and Altro AquariusTM safety flooring. Together they have created wet rooms that offer the ultimate in safety and hygiene and an environment best suited to the complex needs of dementia patients.

Altro Whiterock Satins is a durable, grout-free, water-tight smooth wall cladding system designed for building environments that are required to meet strict hygiene standards. The panels provide a stain-resistant, wipe-clean surface with no gaps or cracks for bacteria to hide in. It is extremely impact resistant and ideal for tough areas. The collection of 26 solid, matt colours, delivers colour schemes for all types of interiors, particularly healthcare.

Altro Aquarius is an innovative safety flooring for combined barefoot and shoe use in wet and dry environments. It is suitable for any type of shoe, including hard and soft soled, rubber and trainers.

Ideal for use in hospitals and care homes, Altro Aquarius has a palette of warm and friendly colours. The non-sparkle finish and chipped/non-chipped variants are ideal for dementia sufferers and the visually impaired.

“For dementia patients, bathrooms can be very confusing and dangerous areas, so it is essential that they are safe, clearly defined and easy to use,” said Lesley. “Using Altro Whiterock Satins for plain, non-reflective walls and Altro Aquarius for the floors – which is slip-resistant for both bare feet and shoes – we have wet rooms that are ideal for patients and staff.

“In addition, we have used Altro Whiterock to replace the windowsills, to make them easier to clean, and because of the pale and neutral colours of the products, the bathrooms are very light.”

Lesley Meaker and her team chose Altro Whiterock DigicladTM wall cladding to turn a single room on the ward into a communal living space. “We wanted to create an area that was welcoming, homely and appealing, and we realised that we could put a range of images and designs directly onto Altro Whiterock Digiclad to achieve the desired effect,” Lesley said.

“We chose two images; the first was similar to wallpaper – in an abstract design. The others were nature scenes, local landscapes. The ward has four sub-wards, and each one has a theme –beaches, meadows, spas and woodland. We also used the same design in three single bedrooms. Overall the effect is superb, colourful and very original.”

Altro Whiterock Digiclad offers the option of digitally printed design on wall surfaces, creating impactful and creative graphics. This is achieved by reproducing a photographic image or Vector Art over a whole wall. Using 2.5mm thick Altro Whiterock as its medium, the hard-coat technology of Altro Whiterock Digiclad has scratch-resistant properties for added surface protection. This makes it ideal for environments where durability is paramount.

Altro Premier Installer Rudge Brothers & James were awarded the contract to install the Altro products. Director Jim Heal said: “This was a great project – it took four of us six weeks on and off to complete, working around other contractors on site.

“There was a bit of problem-solving involved as well. The hospital has suffered from drainage problems in their bathrooms because the floor is too flat. We suggested that for this refurbishment we trial a method we have developed to create a false drop in the floor using latex around the edges of the bathroom, so that water drains into the middle.

“We completed one bathroom to see if it worked, and it was completely successful, so we used the same method on the remaining five bathrooms. We then installed Altro Aquarius on the floors and Altro Whiterock on the walls. We also used Altro Whiterock Chameleon as splashbacks around sinks.

“It was also the first time we have laid new Altro Wood flooring. A great-looking product and very easy and pliable to work with.”

The main contractor for the project was RG Spiller. Site Manager Lee Durrant commented: “Rudge Brothers & James were selected because of their experience with Altro and their ability to install both Altro floors and walls, so we only needed one contractor on site. They worked well with our construction team and were very professional and efficient, completing the work on time.”

Lesley Meaker added: “We have had some fantastic feedback about the new unit. Staff have commented that it’s lovely to see patients congregating and chatting happily in the new communal area, rather than sitting alone on the ward.

“Patients have also emailed us to say how amazing the environment is now, and VIPs and visitors have responded very positively. We are delighted with the results – we achieved exactly what we set out to do.

“Altro’s expertise in designing products for these specialist environments has given us the ability to create what we feel is the benchmark for future projects. We are now looking forward to using the same principles to modernise the second unit, and we are also hoping to refurbish a hospice with Altro products.”