Altro Safety Flooring products have been used to create a dementia-friendly environment at the Salisbury District Hospital. A package of Altro flooring and wall cladding is helping to create an optimum environment of safety, calmness and wellbeing for dementia patients in a general ward at the hospital.

Altro worked with the University of Stirling's renowned Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) to gain greater understanding of the impact of the physical environment on people living with dementia. Based on this collaboration, Altro developed various product ranges and colours specifically designed for use in environments supporting people with dementia.

The Redlynch Ward at Salisbury District Hospital comprises of two separate units. After more than 20 years of service, the ward is being modernised with phase one of the project involving the refurbishment of one of the units. The hospital's ArtCare design team, headed by Lesley Meaker was responsible for specifying the wall cladding and flooring to meet the complex requirements.

Given that dementia patients go through frustrating, confusing and distressing times, the design team aimed to create a truly dementia-friendly ward with an environment that would help minimise their stress and make their lives more manageable.

A key objective of the refurbishment project was to set a standard and create a template that could be replicated elsewhere as the best possible environment for mental healthcare.

Some of the requirements for the dementia-friendly environment included safe flooring underfoot especially when wet, which should also be slip-resistant and sparkle-free so as not to confuse patients; neutral colours with no patterns or ambiguous designs that can potentially upset patients; matt and muted finishes; and sufficient contrast between floors and walls.

To make the space look less clinical and more welcoming, the design team sought to bring nature inside, using natural-looking designs and products, wood effects, and images of trees and flowers among others. All the products used in the refurbishment also needed to be easy to clean and maintain long-term.

The design team was particular about using Altro products, having used them in many projects over the years, and being confident about their superb product quality.

For the ward's main corridor, Lesley and her team specified Altro XpressLay safety flooring, the world's first adhesive-free, truly sustainable safety floor with recycled content. The flooring can be lifted and reused and is 100% recyclable after installation, and at the end of its life. Lesley explained that they chose Altro XpressLay because it was quick to install, taking only a few hours, which meant they didn’t have to close the other unit while the corridor was out of action.

Altro products also selected for the project included Altro Whiterock Satins, a durable, grout-free, watertight smooth wall cladding system designed for building environments required to meet strict hygiene standards; and Altro Aquarius, an innovative safety flooring for combined barefoot and shoe use in wet and dry environments.

Ideal for use in hospitals and care homes, Altro Aquarius has a palette of warm and friendly colours, with its non-sparkle finish and chipped/non-chipped variants ideal for dementia sufferers and the visually impaired.

According to Lesley, bathrooms for dementia patients can be very confusing and dangerous areas, so it is essential that they are safe, clearly defined and easy to use. Wet rooms ideal for both patients and staff have been designed using Altro Whiterock Satins for plain, non-reflective walls and Altro Aquarius for the floors, which are slip-resistant for both bare feet and shoes.

Lesley Meaker and her team chose Altro Whiterock Digiclad wall cladding to turn a single room on the ward into a communal living space. Altro Whiterock Digiclad offers the option of digitally printed design on wall surfaces, creating impactful and creative graphics.

Altro Wood Smooth flooring was specified for the ward's main circulation area to create a wood-like flooring that added a natural, warm touch to the surroundings.

Altro Premier Installer Rudge Brothers & James was awarded the contract to install the Altro products. Director Jim Heal said that it took four of them six weeks on and off to complete the project, working around other contractors on site.

RG Spiller was the main contractor for the project. Site Manager Lee Durrant commented that Rudge Brothers & James was selected because of their experience with Altro and their ability to install both Altro flooring and wall cladding, which meant they needed only one contractor on site.

The refurbished ward has received positive feedback from patients as well as visitors.

Lesley Meaker notes that Altro's expertise in designing products for these specialist environments has enabled the design team to create the benchmark for future projects. The same design principles based on Altro products will now be used to modernise the second unit, as well as a hospice.