TO the untrained eye these paintings of famous London landmarks are a pleasant way to brighten up a blank wall - but they're actually a pioneering way of helping to treat dementia patients.

The corridors of the Woodlands Park Care Home in Great Missenden have each been given different themes by the staff.

They're not just there to bring smiles to the faces of the 27 residents - they also help to stimulate their minds, which is important for patients' treatment.

Judy Sarson, a team leader at the Aylesbury Road care home, said: "I've worked in several care homes for dementia and this is the first one where I've seen something like this. It really has made a difference.

"We're like a big family and have all kinds of fun. We do all kinds of activities and the staff join in. It's important to keep their minds active - that makes a big difference to their lives."

This week is National Dementia Awareness Week and Mrs Sarson believes there are a number of misconceptions about the condition amongst the general public.

She said: "A lot of people don't understand dementia. Some nurses in hospitals don't understand.

"Short term memory loss is a big problem for them. Most of them have excellent long term memory - they still think they are in the past.

"I don't think it makes them unhappy. It's sad for the families to see their loved ones go through stages of memory loss, but the clients tend to be really happy.

"If people get forgetful in their old age, it doesn't mean you're going to get dementia, it means you're getting old. It doesn't necessarily mean they're going to get dementia.

"It can affect all different age groups. We've had people here in their 40s. I find that really heart wrenching - their bodies are still strong and they might have another 40 years of it."

Simple things like recently-decorated corridors - which are all given their own names, such as Love Lane and London Road - have helped residents gain independence by recognising which room is theirs.

It landed the home with a Dignity and Wellbeing in Care award from Buckinghamshire County Council earlier this year.

Mrs Sarson said: "Some residents will go to London Road and will come downstairs and say, 'I've been to London'. They really think they've been to London - it's a treat for them."