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The real thought behind signage

From dementia signage to road signs, we look at what they have in common...

Step outside today and there will be one thing we can guarantee you were surrounded by.

In fact you will have walked past dozens of them on the street and within buildings without realising…

And no, it isn’t light bulbs!

The answer of course is information signage, from fire escapes to road signs, there are signs all around us to point us in right direction to where we need to go and what we need safely.

We rarely notice them for two reasons, one being that we only really notice these signs if we are looking for them.

The other is that these signs have had a considerable amount of research put into their design so that they clearly signpost without commanding your attention at all times.

Effective signage needs to be both subtle within an area but also clear in how our eyes understand it, and this is usually achieved through what colours, iconography and typeface are used.

All signs, from a fire exit to a give way, all share this level of detail in their creation and our dementia signage is no different.


In creating our full range of dementia signage we went to considerable lengths to make sure that they fulfil care home requirements and are ultimately easy to understand for a person living with dementia.

We listened to feedback and research from some of the leading minds in dementia research throughout development to create a range of signs that are both functional and noticeable.

A major component in achieving this lay within the colour scheme.

The colours we used in our final design, yellow and green, were chosen thanks to insightful research from leading dementia experts.

Research paper ‘Ageing changes in the eye’ (Salvi, Akhtar, Currie 2006) looked at how age-related changes in the eye and our colour vision abilities can be essential in colour choice: “As your age increases, using lots of warm and contrasting colours (yellow, orange and red) in your care home can improve your ability to tell where things are and makes it easier to perform daily activities.

Dr Louise McCabe, senior lecturer in dementia studies at Stirling University, adds to this saying: “Reds may be helpful in signage, but no better than using other warm colours like yellow or orange.

“The most important aspect for those with dementia is think about contrast with background as well as about the test colour.”


Expert research such as this helped inform our choice in using yellow and green as a basis for our signage.

Our own Director of Professional Services, Dr Scott Mackie, gives us some additional insight into our informed design choice: “Dementia patients have reduced stereopsis, reduced contrast sensitivity and a loss of blue colour perception.

As such we should use high visibility colours with good comparison contrast, for example green and yellow as used in our dementia signage.”

Little details like this go a long way in helping our partners achieve certain requirements when assessing their home.

‘Is your care home dementia friendly?’ is a popular care assessment tool provided by The King’s Fund.

This includes a list of specific requirements for care home managers to make sure that they have sufficient means to fulfilling the needs of their residents with dementia.


Section 6, ‘The environment promotes orientation’, specifically looks at how the home provides proper visual clues and prompts for assisting residents.

Using our dementia signage around the home gives care home managers the means to fulfil the vast majority of requirements from this assessment tool.

However none of this would be possible without having an informed design, from concept to development, our dementia signage has been created with real thought applied at every stage.

The thought at the core of them... How can we clearly signpost important areas around the home for someone living with dementia?

We believe our dementia signage helps achieve this goal effectively and consistently throughout the home.

If you wish to find out more about our range of dementia signage click here.

To view our range and order dementia signage for your home please click here.