When designing for care projects, the types of tiles specified are extremely important. Age-related changes and impairments can often make it more difficult for people to understand and navigate a building, so we have put together an advice document of tiles assessing their suitability for use in dementia-friendly environments.
Floor coverings are an essential factor when designing a dementia friendly environment as it has an impact not only on the safety and orientation of a space but, when used correctly, can help provide confidence, security and independence.
For a dementia unit, it is imperative to provide the correct colour scheme in order for the patients to feel comfortable. Light reflectance values (LRVs), which refer to the amount of visible light reflected from the walls + floor, play a large part in this. The floor and walls need to contrast by a minimum of 30 points. When designing for people with a visual impairment, good colour contrast between furniture, floors and walls will reduce trips and falls and encourage independence.
Colour and contrast can both be used to enable people with sight loss and dementia to identify different rooms and key features inside and outside of their homes. Good use of colour and contrast can facilitate independent living, by supporting people to find their way around unassisted.

  • – Colour and contrast can be used to highlight hazards. For example, highlighting sharp edges with colour draws attention to the danger that they may pose.
  • – Step edges that are contrasted to stair treads and risers improve safety by helping to visually reinforce the change from flat surfaces to steps.


  • – Using a colour that contrasts with the background draws attention to key features. For example, it can be easier to locate and use switches and sockets, railings and handrails that are of contrasting colour to the wall.
  • – Having furniture in colours which contrasts with walls and flooring helps people with dementia and sight loss to recognise where they are and to find their way around.
  • – Having doorways that are in a contrasting colour to the surrounding walls, and door/window handles that contrast with the doors/ windows help people to use them.
  • – Toilet seats in colours that contrast with the toilet and with other nearby surfaces can help make these more visible.

Contrasting edges could be perceived as a barrier by some people with dementia. In such circumstances stark contrasts at floor level might become a hazard. In making changes to a person’s home or living spaces it is important to consider what that person needs and wants, and to achieve the appropriate balance between protecting them from potential hazards and supporting their independence and freedom of choice. Consideration should be given to how contrast is used to highlight key features and hazards. Using the same colours or ways of contrasting both could lead to confusion. Care must be taken to ensure there is no risk of hazards being mistaken for important features and vice versa. People may not always find it easy to remember the significance of colours, so it may be helpful to have other visual cues in addition to colour and/or contrast differentiation, e.g. appropriate pictures or signage.
View the Grestec Product Inspo/ Care Projects booklet online.



Good design of entrances and exits is important for people with sight loss and dementia. With good design of both internal and external entrances and exits, people with dementia and sight loss will be able to move easily between rooms and to enter and leave buildings freely.

  • – Entrance matting should be considered when designing entrance and exits, because when a floor becomes wet from footfall, the likelihood of slip related accidents inevitably becomes greater. Adequate entrance matting can significantly alleviate this problem of walked in contaminants. Well structured entrance matting, that has an adequate walk-off length, captures the dirt and moisture at the entrance, and virtually eliminates any dirt, debris or moisture being tracked any further into the facility. People very rarely stop to wipe their feet in a public building so it’s important to factor in, not just the type of matting (such as aluminium, PVC/carpet) but also the length of matting, and whether the preferred cleaning method works best with an open or closed surface design.
  • – Whether in people’s own homes or in care homes, all doorways should be wide enough to be easily accessible for people with different levels of mobility. Additionally, external entrances and exits should be designed to provide easy access to outdoor spaces.
  • – Door thresholds should be as low as possible because thresholds which are not flush to the floor can be trip hazards.

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Good bathroom design can support more independence with washing, toileting and personal hygiene. Good design can also help with identification of the toilet and bathroom, especially during the night.

  • – Low-profile shower trays make it easier for people to get into and out of shower cubicles and present less risk of people tripping. Some people may also find wet rooms a helpful alternative.
  • – Toilet seats which contrast with the toilet and bathroom surfaces help people to find the toilet.
  • – Differenciating doors with different colours can help people identify the location of the bathroom. Supplementing this with appropriate signage or pictures is helpful as some people may not always be able to remember the significance of door colours.

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Good layout and design of kitchens can make preparation of food and drink easier and thus facilitate independent living for people with sight loss and dementia.

  • – It can be helpful to people to make use of contrast in the kitchen. For example, contrasting handles or knobs on cupboard doors and kitchen drawers are more easily identifiable. Contrast can be achieved using colour, e.g. red coloured handles on white kitchen fittings, or a contrasting tone of the same colour, e.g. dark blue handles on pale blue cupboard doors.
  • – Worktops which are of a solid colour rather than patterned and which have a matt finish to them are easier for people to work at, since matt finishes result in less glare than highly polished gloss finishes, and solid colours reduce the possibility of visual clutter.
  • – Some people benefit from light coloured worktops in the kitchen as lighter colours help to maximise the distribution of light and to make the most of people’s visual capabilities. This is not the case for everyone, so it is important to find out people’s personal preferences when considering changes.

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View the Grestec Product Inspo/ Care Projects booklet online.