A sense of place in a colourful space

Simple and impactful adaptations to the Care of the Older Person ward to help reduce disorientation and agitation for people with dementia




ANP Medicine for
Older Persons
CNM St Anne’s ward NCAD
Care of the Older Person
multi-disciplinary team
Estates and Facilities Dept


Mater Hospital Foundation


Going into hospital can be a frightening and negative experience for anyone. For a person living with dementia, this is further exacerbated by the unfamiliarity and frenetic nature of the surroundings. These difficulties can lead to increased agitation, disorientation and distress as the person tries to process their new environment.

A team of NCAD design students worked with our staff and patients to consider how we could provide a more familiar feeling and comforting environment that enables and supports them during their hospital stay.


Working closely with the nurse leads,
the students carried out intensive research through observing on the wards,
and interviewing staff, patients and
their families.

They looked at best practice guidelines and reviewed successful case studies from abroad to come up with a series of simple, feasible and impactful adaptations to the ward each year.
The meeting room was redesigned to mimic a homely sitting room, where patients can retreat to if they’re feeling agitated or distressed.
The team reimagined the hallways by reducing clutter that could be triggering, and adding in nostalgic images and comforting distractions.
Colour was used to subtly influence behaviour. For example, by painting the exit door white, it blends in more with the environment and reduces the patient’s urge to leave the ward.
The nurse leads secured funding and continued to work closely with the Estates department. Within a year, they had implemented the solutions to the benefit of hundreds of patients that are cared for on the ward each year.