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Transforming medical spaces into welcoming homes

Monday, July 16, 2018

Helping decision-makers in nursing homes to become aware of the impact of decoration on the well-being and sensory development of residents is a major challenge that Muzéo has been addressing for several years.

While the Georges Pompidou European Hospital (HEGP) has just inaugurated the new "Marina Picasso" space, which has reinvented the living space for hospitalized teenagers and young adults, the issue of medical residences has been testing Muzéo staff since 2011. The workshop, which has completed over 40 institutions housing seniors with loss of autonomy, has been able, through its experience, to construct precise and complete definitions of the specific needs of this type of resident.

Making nursing residences more homely and better places to live while providing support to fragile people in their day-to-day lives: this is the challenge that Muzéo is overcoming. To achieve this, the company organized a cycle of meetings between health professionals and interior designers between November 2011 and April 2012, at which they discussed best practices for the decoration of nursing homes.  The result of this work was a book called Atelier Alzheimer, published in 2015, which unveils the decorative concepts devised by Muzéo.

 

Key principles

Decoration, in this context, fulfils three roles. In addition to creating a pleasant environment for residents, it improves the staff's work environment and helps families to feel better. Three constraints that are often contradictory, but which Muzéo has been able to harmonize and systematize by setting up dedicated spaces for both individuals and groups. Pastels and soft colours (taupe, grey, light yellow), preferred by families and guests, will be used in the reception areas. Conversely, for residents who are more sensitive to contrast, we will use stronger colours in common areas.

 When well designed, the decoration will provide orientation for residents who sometimes become disorientated.  The use of colours and image themes in defined spaces will help residents to find spatio-temporal landmarks, enabling them to maintain a certain amount of autonomy.  For example, using sets of printed wallpapers (preferably large visuals opening onto perspectives) and decorated ceilings, the long corridors of residences are given a breath of fresh air that helps to make circulation more fluid moving around less stressful.

 Colours are used in three complementary ways: they create character and also help those with poor eyesight to find their way around. Strongly contrasting colours help residents to position themselves in terms of floors and areas by clearly identifying doors. The themes chosen are also important. They must evoke the past while also being modern and ergonomic.

 When it becomes a source of escape and imagination, decoration becomes an open window that embellishes and facilitates the day-to-day lives of the residents. The stimulation of emotions can help people to live out the last stages of their lives. The purpose of decoration is then to use sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell to work on the sensory memories of residents to give them a soothing environment. Whether in terms of well-being, safety or support, there is an increasing need to transform healthcare institutions into more personalized, specialized and human places.

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