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Looking Back Whilst Enjoying the Present - Themed Rooms

There may be some controversy regarding themed rooms in residential and dementia care environments. Like Marmite, they’re not for everyone but Gillian Hesketh, MD of Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design has seen how nostalgic settings can benefit social well-being.

Gillian now spends much of her time designing themed rooms, interactive displays and nostalgic engagement materials for hospitals, residential and dementia care homes, dementia cafes and home care companionship providers, volunteers and families. We all know there’s nothing better than a dose of fresh air for feeling good but when residents, patients or people living with dementia can’t get outside, creating the outdoors - indoors or nostalgic environments to share and enjoy has to be an option. 

CQC envisages that ‘Services will have a strong, visible person-centred culture, service users will value their relationships with the staff team and feel that they ‘often go the extra mile’ for them, and staff will be highly motivated and inspired to provide care that is kind and compassionate.’

Creating nostalgic environments can show CQC inspectors your commitment to community spirit and enriched social care. Happy Days knows how important it is to create displays which are mature in nature. So imagine a glorious garden room with subtle background colours; baskets of flowers, memorabilia and cheery garden pictures or a potting shed, a relaxing reminiscence room, local pub or village store to create a difference for your care home’s residents. Gillian always suggests care home managers to ‘Ask care teams, residents, participants and families for input when re-decorating, re-designing areas or choosing themes’ 

Happy Days has recently installed a nostalgic sweet shop into a Stockport residential and dementia care home. The design has provided a community space and incorporates restored shop counters, replica sweet containers and tactile curiosities amongst the traditional equipment. The walls are packed with Toblerone, Cadburys and Rowntree images which surround a seating area where residents and visitors can enjoy a cup of tea, engage with he curiosities, memorabilia and enjoy a meaningful chat. Royal Lancaster Infirmary is part of UHMBT and has installed two Happy Days Corner Shops in senior wards, Seaside themes in corridors and Activity Trolleys in many wards including their A&E department. Matron for professional standards in dementia at UHMBT said that ‘The Happy Days nostalgic materials provide that much needed interaction with patients; memories to reminisce with, helping them relax and provide positive social interaction with the staff and volunteers. Having them now in our A&E departments will be especially helpful to provide a therapeutic approach to care.’

In a Middlesbrough residential and dementia care home, Happy Days helped uplift a large social lounge by creating an oasis of calm. ‘The lounge had a wonderful outlook onto a beautiful garden, so we brought the garden indoors, with images of flowers, planted pots with greenery, added garden related accessories and a themed Glorious Gardening Reminiscence Basket to prompt engagement and activity’ said Gillian.

For a person living with dementia, the long term memory can still be hard at work. Gillian told me of a visit she observed in a dementia care home when adding finishing touches to a 1960’s styled dresser. A daughter visiting her mother asked if she could show the retro telephone to her mother. Over an hour later, the two ladies were still chatting, dialling numbers and had an audience of three residents and one carer. As the daughter left, she had a tear in her eye - and a huge smile on her face.

Five Cost-effective Pointers to Uplift Your Care Home:

Remove faded pictures, these can create a negative effect

Remove jaded silk flowers, any chipped, dull or faded ornaments

Tidy and repair all games, books, jigsaws, organise open storage shelving

Enjoy the views - Move chairs to view outdoors or gardens 

Replace any bland wall art with interesting imagesAdd engagement materials ie Reminiscence Baskets

Whilst there’s a recent trend, and rightly so, towards enjoying the present; healthy living; music and exercise, Gillian believes a trip down memory lane through meaningful environments provides a feel-good-factor for all involved and is central to enriching well-being throughout all care services.

Whether it’s a new build or refurbishment, Happy Days can help bring about a small piece of the past whilst still enjoying the present. ‘Themed areas really can make a difference’, Gillian insists. Try it for yourself. Save time searching and sourcing

For more inspiration visit the One-Stop-Shop at Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design:

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