All care home and dementia design projects differ, but sometimes the design must really step outside the proverbial box, particularly when the resident group is entirely unique. The charity, Royal Star & Garter, was founded in 1916 to care for the severely injured young men returning from the First World War. Today it provides loving, compassionate care for veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia and offers a vast array of activities and therapies to support residents in leading full and happy lives. The charity is proud to have enjoyed royal patronage since it was founded, including that of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The design themes, flexibility of spaces and the ability to accommodate military-related events requires an entirely unique home design.
Using a team put together during the design of Royal Star & Garter’s Pinder’s award-winning Home in Surbiton back in 2014, Park Grove Design was appointed to redesign front of house spaces at the charity’s Solihull Home, as well as a new build property in High Wycombe. This project was a finalist in the Pinder’s Healthcare Design Awards (Best Specialist Dementia Design) 2020, and in the Care Home Awards 2021 for Best New Care Home. The combined Homes won the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Hero Award for Professional Excellence 2021. Project and client teams which truly understand and can even anticipate future needs are essential in the creation of successful environments.
Impactful Communal Spaces
The interior design of the High Wycombe Home was developed with a colour palate based on military insignia; colours which are both uplifting and easy for older people to see. In non-dementia care areas, the background colour palate has been left soft and neutral, providing strong contrasts to the furniture, and assuring the palate will be easy to update in future years.
Many residents use a wheelchair and a turning radius of 1500mm has been incorporated into all layouts.
A bespoke art piece was designed and installed by Studio2C as a back-lit room divider between reception and the adjoining bar. The ‘compass’ symbol is common to all branches of military service and reminds us that, in all stages of life, a sense of direction and purpose are necessary. The art wall has been constructed to allow for the art to be changed in the future, as required. On the reception side of the wall are a pair of chairs by Inside Out Furniture upholstered in a military red impervious fabric by Fabricus and studded with brass military buttons. The reception space is purposefully large as it is used by the Activities Team for larger scale events. It adjoins a piano lounge with built-in storage hidden beneath built-in seating, so materials do not need to be relocated for ground floor activities. To soften the acoustics, Polyflor wood vinyl plank floor tiles are interspersed with inset carpet tiles by Gradus Ltd. at the exact same depth, so no transition strip is needed.
The bar area, while carpeted, also has well-considered acoustics with sound reduction ceiling slats which also help to create a more intimate space. In response to the military heritage of the charity and its residents, the bar has been clad in a faux leather on which historical bronze donation plaques relating to Royal Star & Garter have been mounted. Objects on display include ships bells and other artefacts on permanent loan from the Ministry of Defence, Portsmouth.
The main dining room has splashes of colour in the upholstery, wallcovering and in oak sliding screens which have bespoke coloured-glass insets. These screens create private dining and/or party areas, each with its own servery counter, integrated bins, etc. The screens also allow for the space to be fully opened for large scale events. The tables are fully height adjustable and were supplied by Morgan, along with the chairs. These have been covered to the inside with an impervious fabric by Panaz with the backs in a distinctive velvet from Harlequin.
A natural oak theme flows throughout the building in skirtings, handrails and bespoke door sets which give residents with a uniquely-coloured side door leaf in a durable matt laminate. The generous corridors act as additional meeting places and lounges for each floor.
Of particular interest is the library, where rise and fall computer tables have a built-in side display of newspapers and magazines. As this was a new property the initial book quantity was limited, so using a military palette Park Grove Design created a series of brightly-coloured boxes which can be used to either highlight display items, or just to visually break up the shelving. As the quantity of books grows the number of boxes can be reduced accordingly.
The large and colourful activities room has direct access onto an enclosed terrace which overlooks landscaped gardens. There is a seating area and video/television space, a series of worktables which can be reconfigured as required and a kitchen in which residents can bake and prepare snacks. There is extensive storage in this room to facilitate a breadth of activities.
Royal Star & Garter is at the forefront of dementia care with these areas designed to facilitate specialist dementia care ’families’. The teams recognise that having a sense of purpose is vital to well-being, so residents can help with homely tasks like cookery in comforting kitchens provided by Howdens. Residents live in families of people at a similar stage in their dementia journey. Those in earlier stages enjoy music, exercises, and physiotherapy. For people further advanced, care is nurturing and gentle, focussing on stimulating senses and preserving dignity, comfort, and quality of life. While all dementia areas have their own colour palettes, furniture can be moved between all units as and when required. Cheerful, uplifting colours are used, and Park Grove has maximised storage for dementia-related activities throughout. Lockable contemporary roll-top desks can be found in each area so staff can safely keep important materials to hand without the need to leave residents to access a traditional nurse station.
Resident rooms in this area feature dementia-friendly furniture with wardrobe doors having vision panels and contrast edging details on all pieces. In addition, Royal Star & Garter feedback indicated that desks are not often used by this resident group, so Park Grove designed a two level storage unit to maximise space for photo albums and other important mementos.
Resident Room Criteria
Residents are encouraged to bring their own personal belongings when moving into the Home, helping to create a homely, friendly atmosphere, where residents, relatives and friends feel welcome. Bedside lamps are touch-sensitive for ease of use as manual dexterity is often an issue in later years. A variety of room designs were developed for each floor to support the sense of individuality and ‘home’ so important to the charity.
Bespoke furniture was designed by Park Grove and manufactured and supplied by OSKA Care Ltd. This includes anti-bacterial upholstered headboards, and a unique wider than average wardrobe system with bespoke built-in incontinence pad storage and dispenser.
Check It Out
A virtual tour of this project highlighting both the design and the team’s approach to care is available at www.starandgarter.org/hw.