Interior Design at Willow Court
Willow Court is many things. One thing is it not, is a 'dated care home'. Luxury décor and high quality fixtures and fittings throughout Willow Court means that it feels more than just a 'home from home' - It is home!
Denise Banks, our Head of Supported Housing Design, has worked on the project right from the start and has had an influence on everything from layout, themes and colours to ensure these design elements help support the older generation.
She said Willow Court was the best of both worlds as it marries the best bits of sheltered housing and the necessary elements of residential care to provide residents with their own flat but with care on site 24 hours a day.
“I wanted to create an environment where people feel like it is their home – not just when walking through their own front door but encouraging and enabling them to use the whole building as it is theirs."
How does Willow Court relate to the local area?
Lots of thought had gone into linking the building with the area, but also finding ways to tie that in with making it easier to navigate for residents.
Denise said “About 18 months ago I started thinking about what we could do here and one of the things I was keen to incorporate is where it is – Whittlesey and the Fens.
“I looked to nature and with the project team came up with three names – Bewick for the type of swans which can be found on the rivers and waterways in the area, Bullrush which are along the Wash wherever you go and Dragonfly which are also abundant in this area.
“Each floor has a name and the colour scheme compliments that. I also wanted it to be spacious and light and airy with a sense of fluidity so you know, even though the floors are a different colour scheme, it all flows into one.
“You will see the same wall colour and the same flooring so it eliminates confusion and eliminates the barriers that tonal differences in flooring can create to those with dementia or a visual impairment."
Two decades of experience
Having worked with the older generation for more than two decades, Denise knows that whether it be through vision impairment or memory loss, buildings of this size can become everything you don’t want them to be.
Denise said, “They can stop people walking around. They will walk somewhere and won’t know where they are so they won’t walk there again. They will just confine themselves to the areas they feel comfortable in.
“The whole idea here is no matter where you are you can look and see a sign, a colour or an image of whatever floor you are on and you can find where you need to go. Each person, with their keys, will have a fob with the colour, the image and the flat number.”
Denise wanted to make sure residents at Willow Court would be able to feel at home once they have moved in. Incorporating nature was a key part of this.
She said: “I wanted to create an environment where people feel like it is their home – not just when walking through their own front door but encouraging and enabling them to use the whole building as it is theirs. Nature and greenery can improve wellbeing, so I wanted to bring that inside.
“In summer months, mobility and other health issues are still a problem, with people largely confined to the indoors. So whatever floor you are on, you are not far from a plant or flower.
"Nature and greenery can improve wellbeing, so I wanted to bring that inside."
Independence is key at Willow Court
Willow Court has been designed to maintain and build essential skills to promote independence. For example the communal laundry facilities give everyone the opportunity to look after that aspect of their lives where possible. Community and friendships are also encouraged through the communal lounge and restaurant where everyone comes together.
Denise said that Willow Court is also a scheme that will help rebuild relationships between residents and their families, thanks to the pressure of caring being lifted.
She said: “Yes, it will give those people as much of a fighting chance to keep skills and live well and comfortably, but it also has a positive impact on sons, daughters, other family members and even friends who are in a primary carer role and have lost the normal relationship they had with the person they care for.
“What this gives is not just a life changing opportunity for the resident, but also the family members. They can now visit, have a meal together in the restaurant or get out and about. The worry, the load, the stress, subsides.
“That to me is improving lives as the impact of what we do reaches far beyond our immediate customers.”