Distinctive door decals make care home less confusing for residents with dementia

Last week, plain beige doors at the Mt. Cartier Court intermediate and extended care facility were covered with made-to-measure vinyl decals to make them look like they're made of different materials, such as antique wood, wrought iron or stained glass.

Customization helps residents recognize door to their own room, facility says

Doors at the Mt. Cartier Court intermediate and extended care facility in Revelstoke, B.C., were a uniform beige, left, before they were covered with vinyl decals of more distinctive doors. (Kelly Pettus)

A long-term care facility in Revelstoke, B.C., is helping residents with dementia avoid getting confused by identical-looking doors by applying clever customized decals. 

Last week, plain beige doors at the Mt. Cartier Court intermediate and extended care facility were covered with made-to-measure vinyl decals to make them look like they're made of different materials, such as antique wood, wrought iron or stained glass. 

"All of our doors are the same so it makes sense — how can you expect someone living with dementia to differentiate one beige door from the next beige door?" said facility manager Kelly Pettus.

"I think when you're in a hallway of beige doors, it can be scary," she said. "You don't know which door is yours, you don't feel comfortable, and [some] people wander into different rooms, and that can be dangerous."

Volunteers help install a door decal at Mt. Cartier Court. (Kelly Pettus)

Pettus says she happened upon a Pinterest post of the door decals when she was searching for ways to disguise the facilities' exit doors as book shelves to stop exit-seeking behaviour. 

The decals are made by True Doors, a Dutch company focused on making nursing home residents feel more at home, and making it easier for them to recognize their doors. 

The decals cost $150 each. The company offers 500 designs sourced from real doors in the Netherlands, or customers can base a decal on a door of their choosing by providing a photo. 

Thanks to $6,500 from the Revelstoke Hospital Auxiliary Society, the cost of decals for 44 resident rooms at Mt. Cartier Court were covered.

"They look like real doors. We have wood doors, we have wrought iron doors, we have one door that looks like a gate to a garden, we have some doors with stained glass," said Pettus.

"We had a traffic jam of wheelchairs and walkers because everyone was so excited to come and see how the doors were going to turn out."

'I know my door is blue'

Resident Joyce Crosby had nothing but positive feedback for the new look.

"Just that we had the choice of different colours, so we're not just stuck with one door that's all the same," said Crosby. "I think they could be helpful."

Pettus says the doors are already working as desired. 

"We've had a resident say I'm confused, I'm not sure where to go, but I know my door is blue," she said.

Pettus says the care facility residents have taken quite the liking to the doors, visiting each others, and taking family and friends on tours. 

"Everyone's super keen. I'm getting emails daily about our doors, and who to contact and how we did it, so I think we've sparked something here."

With files from Daybreak South

About the Author

Cory Correia

Reporter

Cory Correia is a reporter with CBC Vancouver. Send him an email at cory.correia@cbc.ca