Creating a non-institutionalised environment for challenging behaviour services.

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A challenging environment by it’s very nature has to be able to withstand extreme forces and pressures at times, which can often mean that the furniture and furnishings available for these interiors can appear institutional and unhomely. An environment is well known to be able to have a profound impact on a persons’ mood, there are vast amounts of studies into the effects of different colours, layouts and the amount of natural light available, amongst many other important factors. How can we incorporate some of these techniques and learnings into challenging environments to create a space that is both suitable, robust and sustainable, but also gives the residents’ a feeling of calm and contentment in what is their home? In this blog we explore some of the ways that small changes can go a long way to creating an environment that is a far cry from the institutional settings of the past.

Introduce Colour

Reactions to colours often have both a psychological effect as well as a physical effect. For instance, red is often seen as a warning colour, whereas the cool tones of blue are more calming. This is of course subjective depending on the individual and their preferences, but adding colour to what can often be a bland space will provide visual stimulation as well as interest. Creating a neutral space may seem practical as you know it will not offend or upset any individual, but it is not normally reflective of the users’ vibrant personalities or the homes they may be used to. There are some simple ways to add colour to a space without breaking the bank:

  • Add soft furnishings such as cushions and throws in bright colours. These can easily be changed depending on the residents’ preference or level of risk. There are literally hundreds of options available for cushions, have a browse of the FR fabrics available here.
  • Bedding and towelling in different colours will add variety and also help the residents to distinguish which items are for their own use.
  • Wall art and noticeboards are a great way to add visual stimulation and a bright picture of a beach at sunset for instance can really lift a room. Feature paints are also handy for adding personalisation to bedrooms and helping to create a desired mood within a room.

Textiles & Texture

It can be tempting to furnish an entire property in the same faux leather for ease of both use and specification. However, there are some great opportunities to add in some texture to your sofas and chairs that are youthful and exciting.

  • Faux leather is a good choice for properties where there are incontinence issues. Why not think about adding a brightly coloured or patterned waterproof upholstery to the outside of the chair or sofa for something a bit different?
  • All textile upholsteries for the care sector are waterproof, stain resistant and FR, therefore it would be possible to use lots of different textiles in high contact areas and still be confident in their suitability.
  • Wallpaper, whilst adding visual stimulation, can also be tactile and provide an extra element of texture to a room.

Nature – Bringing The Outside In

Spending time outside in nature is well documented to improve mental health and general wellbeing. Unfortunately, with British weather it’s not always possible or practical to be outside. But there are ways to bring nature into our services that will benefit the service users.

  • Growing herbs is great for a team activity as everyone is invested in the life of the plant, as well as providing greenery to a space and the psychological improvements this can bring.
  • Curtains can be made to order in a vast array of FR fabrics so why not choose something with a botanical or green colour theme?
  • Murals can create a really stunning focal point for a room and can be designed in pretty much any image you’d like, a calming forest or nature walk through a jungle would be a great way of creating an outdoor scene inside.

As specialists in providing interiors for challenging environments, we understand the importance of creating practical and safe interiors that also support the service users and provide them with a real homely feeling. We hope you’ve been able to take away some tips from this blog and if you’d like any advice from our team, you can contact us on 01603 664 900 or

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