Opening doors for people living with dementia . . .
This month we had great fun exploring the experience of opening and closing doors, we had been asked to advise on handles for the internal doors of one of Alzheimer Scotland's resource centers.
Here is what we found . . .
THE GOOD . . .
We found that handles need to be a minimum of 12cm from pivot to end.
This length makes a good lever so even if your grip is not great you can use the weight of your arm to push the handle down and open the door.
Handles need to stand out against the door for those with sight impairments so using a contrast colour is important.
Handles with some shaping were preferred as they felt more domestic.
Handles that are easy to clean, texture can provide grip but can also harbour dirt and germs, a particular problem if handwashing becomes erratic.
There needs to be a decent gap between the handle and the door - we found 5cm worked well, even for David's manly paws.
Our sketch of what the team would suggest based on the conclusions of our testing is shown here as a guide.
THE BAD . . .
Round handles - twisting motions are hard for ageing hands
Handles with pointed ends - they catch your sleeve.
Short handles - don't provide enough leverage so are hard to operate for people who have a weak grip.
Handles with grooves - harbour dirt and are difficult to clean.
UPV double glazing handles that need to be pulled UP to lock - cause great confusion, are impossible for those with advanced arthritis and our resident OT Carol reports that she struggles to find adaptations to help folks with these doors. This is a real issue for window makers going forward - how can we develop secure locking that can be used by an ageing population?
Bathroom locks are an issue - we will follow up on this next month to try and find good locks that are easy to fit and can be opened from the outside . . .
Please let us know if you have any stories of good or bad door handles - here at dementia circle its all about the minutiae - making things better, by finding better things!
Stirling Dementia Services Development centre have some general information about entrances here if you are looking for more on this topic.