Age is Not Beige (ANB) was a pilot project commissioned by Jewish Care in 2016 to explore how involving residents and staff in the decision making about the content, function and aesthetic of a shared living environment might impact their engagement and wellbeing.
The challenge was to transform a dull ‘Lavender Lounge’ in need of refurbishment into an active buzzing social space and games room. The residents, staff and families were involved in the whole process from start to finish over 3 months of creative activities and consultations.
Discussion groups sharing ideas, creating ‘Mood Boards, paint testing on the walls, interior design On iPads, production of original artwork and photographs (of each other) for the walls, Selecting furnishings, choosing games equipment (which included a dart board, baseball net) as well as curating a collection of personal
objects for a cabinet ‘museum’ and ultimately renaming the room the ‘Sunshine Lounge’.
Age is not Beige was an intervention which was also a ‘fight against habit’ – it broke the routine of TV gazing by turning the furniture around to look out of the window onto the garden and transforming empty corners into open access games, music and readingareas with micro libraries and vinyl record players.
Dementia mapping, before and after the transformation, documentary footage, stills and interviews throughout the process reveal a significant change in the resident’s relationship with their living environment and each other. Having portraits of staff and residents on the walls and personal objects from their rooms in the cabinet gave residents an empowered sense of ownership and belonging, and heightened social
Q “The whole place is so light, so bright and the residents actually
don’t sleep as much as they used to … they are more talkative as well,
more active more willing to participate in activities “
Care Staff Princess Alexandra House