Hospital design and dementia

Floor plan of a hospital setting showing different spaces.Hospital stays are distressing at the best of times, but for patients with dementia it is doubly so. Apart from appropriate patient care, hospital design factors can help patients feel more relaxed. The Dementia Enabling Environment Virtual Information Centre has a section on the design of hospitals. 

This interactive web tool shows a layout of a typical section of a hospital. Clicking on each room takes you to another page which is illustrated with Before and After features. A slide bar takes you between the Before and After illustrations. Design ideas for the staff station, bed area, patient or family lounge and reception area show how a few tweaks can make the place more dementia friendly. For a more in-depth guide see the guide from Ireland on using a universal design approach.

The website from Alzheimer’s WA also has sections on public buildings, gardens, care environments and homes. The Principles of Dementia Enabling Environments could be applied to most places:

      1. Unobtrusively reduce risks
      2. Provide a human scale
      3. Allow people to see and be seen
      4. Manage levels of stimulation
      5. Support movement and engagement
      6. Create a familiar space
      7. Provide a variety of places to be alone or with others
      8. Design in response to vision for way of life  

Design tool for dementia-friendly public buildings

A basic floor plan showing a meeting room, toilets, reception and lobby area.The online tool for Dementia Enabling Environments has a section on public buildings. A click on the Public Buildings picture takes you to a page with a floor plan. Clicking on a room in the floor plan brings up a 3D view of the room. Hovering the mouse over questions marks in the room brings up more detailed information about design ideas that are good for people with dementia. Of course, these designs are usable for almost anyone else who is ambulatory, including people with other cognitive conditions.

This is an excellent resource that takes accessibility beyond the access codes which don’t cover this level of design. The Dementia Enabling Environments tool also covers homes, care settings, and gardens and nature. There are links to other resources as well.

This website has lots of other information about dementia design. You can use the search facility on the menu, or to get you going here are eight references