Independent report on the effect of murals in a dementia unit

Extract from a report following a study carried out by Milton Keynes Council after 30 murals were painted in a specialist dementia unit.

The types of improvements seen included increases in the number of residents able to:

  • Find their own way to the toilet and use it without significant assistance
  • Find their own way to their bedroom without asking a staff member for direction
  • Spend more time outside of the traditional confines of the main home environment
  • Engaged in the activity programme and an increase in the activities on offer across the week.
  • Score satisfied or higher on satisfaction questionnaires

Further improvements included a reduction in the number of residents:

  • Distressed wandering and repetitive statement of wanting to leave the home
  • Slips trips and falls in the home
  • Incontinence associated with not finding or being able to use the toilet

Whilst the impact can be difficult to assess, feedback confirms the following;

  • More residents eat meals in dining room and the atmosphere is tangibly more relaxed
  • Prior to new lounge residents clustered in hall and frequent disagreements over the few chairs available
  • Residents who don’t want to watch television use new lounge – very popular relaxed space.
  • More capacity for hosting activity and entertainers
  • Resident’s relatives report noted improvement in environment and enjoy walking with residents.
  • Tea rooms increasingly being used for afternoon tea and activities
Bluebell wood mural in communal area of care home

Nurse’s station mural in TOPAS dementia assessment unit

In addition to this, much anecdotal evidence as to the benefit of murals for the residents, staff and visitors has been recorded. One resident reported that one particular mural reminded her of a place that she used to go as a child. Sitting and looking at this mural every morning made her feel less anxious and happier. Staff confirmed that her medication was reduced as a result. Another was talking excitedly to her visitors about the mural in her room, which was of the town where she grew up. She was able to engage in animated conversation about the things she did and the places she went as a child, which made the visiting process much more fun for all parties. Staff report less pacing up and down the corridors and more socialisation and engagement with both staff and other residents.