A specialist sign manufacturer is leading the way in adapting care homes and hospitals for people living with dementia.
Find Signage provides products to more than 300 care homes and thousands of hospitals, both public and private, throughout the UK.
Signage is used to make it easier for corridors and rooms to be identified, in order to support those transitioning from home to residential care.
A leader in the field, Find has branched out to produce new lines of dementia-friendly home ware and activity products over the last eight years.
The business has projected turnover of between £1.5m and £1.8m for the current financial year.
Managing director Peter Rose told The Yorkshire Post the company’s products are “really simple but very effective”.
He said: “We all find it difficult to negotiate new environments, particularly when everywhere looks the same, but for people with dementia it can be devastating.
“We decorate the environment so it means something to them, so they’re able to find their way and identify their rooms.
“These are there homes. Can you imagine how distressing it would be if you can’t find your way home?”
Private healthcare company Bupa was its first client, and is now joined by providers and NHS trusts around the country. The company has also had interest from Germany, Australia, the US and Canada.
Find developed the signage range based on evidence of how people change their behaviour due to deteriorating physical and mental ability.
Mr Rose said: “For many people as they age, one of their biggest fears is falling over things, which means they focus more on the ground. We position signs quite low so they are within their field of vision.
“Reading becomes an issue, colour becomes an issue and reflections can be challenging. To address that, all signage is non-reflective, words are written in a particular typeface, colours are high contrast and there are high-quality pictures to help people who have lost the ability to read at all.”
Customer feedback is key in product development, Mr Rose said.
“Our customers really are our greatest asset, they bring a wealth of information,” Mr Rose said.
“They tell us they are dealing with a certain problem and ask if we can develop something to address it.”
In addition to its signage products, Find has developed a crockery range and specialist clocks.
It has also created a range of traditional red phoneboxes that accommodate wheelchair users, as well as bringing much-needed familiarity to the setting.
Activity items that stimulate conversation in a non-confrontational way and enable dementia users with communication problems to interact with carers are also in development.
In 2011, the company received finance from White Ghost director Anthony Cockroft, which enabled it to “really start to make headway”, Mr Rose said.
The items save “collosal amounts of money” for homes and the NHS by allowing people to live more independently, he said.
“It is a lovely, very meaningful thing to be involved in,” he added.