Nearly a year after Altro safety flooring was installed in a pioneering new dementia ward at Warrington Hospital, statistics have revealed that the products are helping to vastly improve life for patients and staff.
This is effectively setting the standard for flooring in clinical environments where creating a relaxed, calming and safe environment is paramount.
The £1m Forget Me Not ward opened at Warrington Hospital in May 2014, with the aim of leading the way in providing the best quality care for hospital patients with dementia.
The ward features a number of innovative design features, including its own mock bus stop, lounge area with traditional-look fireplace, quiet room with a 1960s-style TV, and a special dementia garden area. Everything is designed to provide relaxation and stimulation for patients who need hospital care, and who also have dementia.
Lee Bushell, Warrington Hospital’s Estates Officer, Capital Projects, said: “The results we have seen so far are astounding and show that we have got it right. There are fewer patient attacks on staff, fewer slips, trips and falls, and patients with a history of violence are quickly calm and relaxed after arriving at the unit.
“The length of stay on the ward has vastly reduced — which for a unit with only 21 beds is a major consideration — and there is less sickness and absence among staff because they are happier in their working environment.
“There are no issues with cleaning at all, and the flooring still looks good and is performing very well.”
Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was one of the largest beneficiaries from the £50 million national King’s Fund, which helps shape health policy and practice.
Lee Bushell said: “Warrington’s Forget Me Not ward has been designed to look different to a typical ward. The needs of patients with dementia are very specific. Our aim was to cater to these absolutely in the creation of the new ward, and provide a calm and relaxing environment for care using the latest design principles, colour and light.
“There are many different types of dementia and because everyone is unique, everyone is affected by it in different ways. But there are several things that many sufferers experience, such as forgetfulness, disorientation of time and place, difficulty planning ahead and with short-term memory, and occasionally hallucinations. Understandably, this can often lead to patients becoming anxious or distressed.
“By understanding how dementia affects sufferers, we were able to create a dementia-friendly environment that both minimises the stresses that patients experience, while providing positive stimuli in a homely, calming space.”
Forget Me Not ward is a very clearly defined space, prioritising what is most important. The lighting is much brighter than normal, and there is good tonal contrast between flooring, skirtings, walls and doors, and glare is avoided.
Strong colours have been used, and feature walls make rooms look more three-dimensional. Frequent ‘cues’, such as familiar objects and pictures, are also vital as they help with orientation.
Flooring plays an important role in dementia-friendly design, because dementia patients need to feel confident moving around the space. Using matt flooring is essential, as reflective surfaces can cause confusion, and speckling or sparkles need to be avoided. Flooring must be safe underfoot, as well, and with a tone and texture that is warm and comforting.
“We chose Altro Wood SafetyTM and Altro AquariusTM flooring for the new ward because we have used them both at Warrington Hospital before with great success, so I knew they would be the right choice for this project,” explains Lee.
“Altro Wood Safety has been installed throughout the ward and public areas. Its timber-look design is warm and familiar, which is a key issue for patient wellbeing. Plus of course it provides slip-resistance underfoot for the patients.”
The Altro Wood Safety™ range of 16 wood-look designs offers a combination of classic, contemporary classic and on trend designs, which are ideal in locations where first impressions count and you can’t afford to compromise on safety.
The palette enables mood to vary from cool and classy for spas and lobbies, to warm and nurturing for the healthcare and educational sectors. The sparkle-free finish makes it particularly ideal for application in dementia settings.
The range benefits from Altro Easyclean Maxis PUR Technology for optimum, long term cleaning and maintenance performance.
Altro Aquarius has been fitted in the ward’s showers, bathrooms and toilets. “The benefit of Altro Aquarius is that it’s safe underfoot in wet areas with both bare feet and shoes, so for an environment where staff wearing shoes will be assisting patients with bare feet, it’s ideal,” Lee says. “It’s also a very hygienic product which has been specifically developed for clinical environments.”
Altro Aquarius™ was developed for lasting performance in wet and dry, shoes or barefoot. Achieving a pendulum test value of TRRL ≥50 and Class B to DIN51097 for barefoot use, Altro Aquarius provides optimum lifetime sustained slip-resistance in wet and dry environments. This innovation revolutionises product selection for potentially wet areas, because it removes the uncertainty of how and where to specify and install safety flooring for mixed barefoot and shoe use. It’s a 2mm safety floor that has been extensively tested on a variety of shoe types to ensure top performance in a host of environments – bathrooms, changing areas, hospital wards. Anywhere you can expect a wet and dry floor environment. It’s also easy to clean, with Altro Easyclean Maxis PUR technology, meaning it’s at the forefront of safety floor cleaning.
“Overall, this is a real success story, and one that we are using to replicate in other areas of the hospital — specifically a stroke unit, where patients often have the same needs and issues,” says Lee.
“But we believe that this type of environment is beneficial across the board in clinical areas, where you can use flooring that has the homely warm look of a vinyl, but with the benefits of excellent safety and hygiene.
“We have proved Altro flooring works extremely well, and we want to take this forward and bring its benefits to other areas of the hospital.”