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light, affect the person with dementia and discusses some of the implications that nurses need to consider to create more therapeutic care environments. In fact, sensory stimulation can have a significant effect on the wellbeing of people with dementia.

Jan Dewing explains how, with some simple modifications, the care environment can be made more therapeutic. “There are environmental challenges when working towards providing person-centered care, regardless of the care setting-whether it is acute hospitals, day hospitals/centers and care homes, and whether the setting is new or very old.

According to Dewing, in most cases, modifications can be made by nurses and nurse leaders such as modem matrons and nurse consultants. “These modifications will enhance the wellbeing of the person with dementia, contribute to the creation of a more therapeutic care setting, and offer staff a more pleasant working environment.”

Noise and light are the two most obvious sources of sensory stimulation in the environment, and when ignored or mismanaged, they can become important sources of under- or over-stimulation for the person with dementia.

“Assessing and modifying light and noise levels in the environment can contribute to providing dignified care for older people with dementia and for other older people with a range of sensory and cognitive impairments,” notes Dewing. For the most part, staff can have a significant degree of control over levels of light and noise in the care environment and nurses need to set up processes to ensure that they take responsibility for managing them as part of daily patient care.

There is also an increasing amount of research in different fields to show that the environment is an important, but sadly often undervalued and even ignored resource, in dementia care. “This can be partially explained by historical inadequate resourcing of, and undervaluing of, services for older people. Consequently, the environment has not always been given the priority it deserves,” adds Dewing.

More recent discussions about care homes propose that there are tensions around the rigid interpretations of health, safety, and infection control regulations-as well as the goal of providing more meaningful and homely environments for people with dementia. “Some call for creative solutions that address safety concerns from all points of view. In this debate, we should keep central what is best for the person with dementia,” she says.

The physical and social environment in all care settings can have a significant effect on caring experiences, day-to-day living, overall well-being, and quality of life. In the end, the ultimate challenge is to ensure that the goal of ‘home’ is achieved while at the same time having a safe enough working environment.

CAPS designated remodelers like Home Evolutions will always consider noise and light issues that can affect people with dementia-especially when completing home renovations to achieve all of your aging-in-place needs.

Read more about this story in the next and upcoming issue of The Forever Home!

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P.S.  From our family to yours-Wishing you a joyous and Happy Thanksgiving!

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