Wayfinding for people with dementia in a hospital environment

People with dementia can find navigating hospitals very challenging, causing anxiety and stress as well as pressure on staff.

As hospitals are large confusing building initiating wayfinding cues into the hospital environment will enable people with dementia to navigate their way around.

Dementia-friendly wayfinding can be initiated by using:

We all use signs to guide us but for a person with dementia, their cognitive functions and decision-making abilities mean that “normal” signs used in a hospital environment are not clear. This can lead to confusion and worry especially if decisions such as finding the toilet, for example, are left to late.

Dementia-friendly signage should have the following elements to be most effective:

The use of both pictures and words – people with dementia lose their cognitive function in different ways, some lose the ability to recognise words, some pictures. Using both is recommended.
• Colour – Signs should stand out. By using a contrasting colour to the wall/door you can make the signs standout. It is also important that you are consistent with the colour. For example, All toilet signs should be of the same colour and style.
• Placement of the sign – Minimise clutter by removing any unnecessary signs to reduce confusion. Placement of the sign is also important. For example, if you place the sign for the toilet on the wall a person with dementia may try to push the sign thinking this is the entrance. This can cause confusion and frustration.
• The height of the sign – Many people with dementia look straight ahead so placing a sign too high or too low can make it difficult for them to spot.


Having recognisable visual cues will help a person with dementia comprehend where they are. This can be achieved by creating landmarks through artwork.
Artwork such as murals can play an important part in creating a dementia-friendly environment not only do they create a focal point but they also make the environment less clinical which in turn lowers anxiety.

Is your hospital dementia-friendly?

We understand it can be difficult to know where to start and how to implement environmental changes for the maximum benefit of all involved in the process that is why we offer a FREE Environmental Visit which will provide you with all the recommendations you need.

To find out more complete the form on the link below and one of our advisors will get back to you.

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