Department of Health

Understanding what you do well in your facility and identifying where you could improve is a good start to developing strategies for the use of colour.

  • Think about age, gender, cultural background, religious or spiritual needs and socio-economic circumstances of people with dementia and families when selecting colours.
  • Create up to five colour swatches from which new residents and families can choose their preferred colour scheme for bedrooms, ideally including fabric, wallpaper and paint samples.
  • Think about staff preferences for colours in staff areas.
  • Select the colour of more expensive items, such as furniture and furnishings before selecting paint, which is less expensive and easier to change.
  • Increase colour contrast between furniture and walls to increase visibility.
  • Provide effective colour contrasting throughout a facility, unless wanting to minimise visibility.
  • Select colours that allow for ageing vision and visual ability.
  • Combine light colours, such as yellow or green, with dark colours, such as red or blue, to produce the most effective contrasts.
  • Avoid dark green against bright red, yellow against white, blue against green, and lavender against pink.
  • Test colour samples under proposed lighting conditions to verify how they will appear.
  • Provide good lighting to enhance your colour scheme.

Colour in dining areas

  • Add colour contrasting edges to tables to increase visibility.
  • Use placemats that colour contrast with table tops, plates and utensils.
  • Select cups and plates with colour contrasting rims or edges to improve visibility.
  • Contrast plates, utensils and containers in colour or brightness against table cloths.
  • Encourage skilful use of colour on white plates to make food easier to see and eat.
  • Use clear, high colour contrast print of appropriate size on menu cards and placecards where used.

Colour in bathrooms

  • Colour contrast toilet seats with toilet bowls and floor.
  • Use warm peach coloured tones that flatter skin tones.

Colour combinations for effective colour contrasts are light colours against black, dark colours against white, light yellow against dark blue, light green against dark red.

Colour rendering

The Colour Rendering Index for lamps uses 100 as the number for light most closely resembling typical daylight. A bulb with a number of 80 or higher can provide a reasonably accurate colour rendering. Temperature of the light source is also a measure of colour rendering, with degrees Kelvin being the standard measure. The higher the temperature, the cooler the light and the closer to daylight. The recommended light rating that simulates daylight conditions or incandescent lighting is 3000–3500 degrees Kelvin.

Reviewed 18 February 2016


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