News - November 2018
We know that the design of homes, hospitals, and public spaces can make a huge difference to people living with dementia.
But recently there has also been a more-widespread acceptance of the role that individual fixtures and fittings can play in enhancing the lives of this very-specialist cohort.
And one often-overlooked product is mirrors.
Tony Stead, business development manager at New Vision, explains: “Mirrors create a common problem for people with dementia because, for many, the person looking back from the mirror bears no resemblance to their perception of themselves, who they imagine to be much, much younger.
“Their assumption, then, is that it’s a stranger in their room and that can be very frightening.”
A spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Society added: “Mirrors can cause some people to avoid rooms, become disorientated, and believe there is an intruder in the room.
“However, not all people with dementia will experience problems with mirrors, and some people may still want to use and access one for personal care.
“It is, therefore, important for care homes to be designed in a way that can be adapted to meet the needs of an individual.”
But, in practice, staff don’t have the time to be putting up, or taking down, pictures and mirrors every time the occupant of a room changes.
To address this issue, New Vision recently launched the Reversible Mirror.
Designed as a frame and an insert with a mirror on one side and a dementia-friendly picture on the reverse; once mounted to the wall, it can easily be switched.
And, as the mirror is fabricated from a polycarbonate material, it is shatterproof and lightweight.
“A flexible solution that allows people to choose it the ideal strategy for dementia environments,” said Stead.
Commenting on the Reversible Mirror, he added: “The value of having the dementia-friendly picture on the reverse is that you’re not taking something away from a person living with dementia; you’re simply swapping it for something else.”
New Vision is not the only company to offer dementia-friendly mirrors.
The Reinforced Bed Company has launched the Harley Dementia Folding Wall Mirror, which has the option of being folded closed so the reflective surface cannot be seen.
And it’s not just in dementia care environments that this new generation of mirrors is being used.
Mental health facilities, too, are increasingly specifying modern solutions.
In recent months Tough Furniture has seen orders for its anti-ligature mirrors increasing dramatically.
Speaking to hdm at the recent Healthcare Estates exhibition, area sales manager, Kevan Johnson, explained: “With mental health patients, it’s important that when looking in a mirror, they see a true image of themselves, so we design mirrors to be scratchproof.
“Another key design feature is that they are robust and cannot be smashed or dismantled and used as a weapon or to self harm.
“Our products are press produced, with soft edges and are designed to be anti ligature,” said Johnson.
Meeting the challenge
“They can be fixed to the wall with anti-ligature fixings and as they are made of polycarbonate, they are very, very durable.”
Anti-Ligature Shop also has a range of safety mirrors for challenging environments - all made from polycarbonate and virtually unbreakable.
A spokesman said: “When designing products for mental health environments, it’s about robustness.
“Most of our mirrors are polycarbonate, which is 200 times more shatter resistant, and that’s key as it means they can’t be smashed and sharp edges created.
“They are also anti-scratch and anti-ligature.”
The mirrors can be specified with holes for anti-ligature screw fittings, or can be stuck directly onto the wall.
For dementia care environments, the company is currently working on a reversible option, with a prototype expected in the coming months.
And both Anti-Ligature Shop and Tough Furniture are offering a longer version of their mirrors.
“Environmental inspections will mark you down if you don’t provide a mirror,” said the Anti-Ligature Shop spokesman.
“And, as females want to do their hair or make-up, you can’t just have tiny mirrors. A lot of places also want full-length options.”
And with the focus on hotel-style interiors, different shapes are also being specified, including oval and round mirrors, which help to make the environment less institutional.
“When we design a new product, it’s about asking ourselves, what would we want in our home and how can we make that safe for people with mental health problems,” said the spokesman.