Using murals in care homes: how to get it right

Although murals in care homes can have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing, using unsuitable images can have a negative effect, particularly on people living with dementia, as Sally Knocker, consultant trainer with Meaningful Care Matters, explains

Many years ago, I worked in a care home in Kensington and Chelsea in London. I remember that the houses for people living with dementia were named after famous streets and squares in the area. The ideas seemed to make sense in terms of familiarity. However, one woman living with dementia saw the large fake 'Sloane Square' street sign near the door of the home area, and looked both perplexed and annoyed: "If this is Sloane Square, then I will eat my hat!"

More recently, a lively mural of a village street scene, including a horse and cart and a variety of Victorian-era images, was installed in a Butterfly-accredited home.1 I liked it because there were children playing and a few dogs in the picture, and I thought it would cheer up a very long, bland-looking hallway. However, when going to check it out, a man living in the home smiled wryly at me and said: "Do they really think we are that old?!"

People living with dementia are not stupid! This may seem like such an obvious statement, but it is important when considering the choice of murals that we do not patronise or confuse people.

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