Dementia friendly home design

Front cover of UD Dementia Friendly homesDementia friendly dwellings are not exclusive – a universal design approach means that anyone can live in them. Creating new and existing dementia-friendly dwellings is the topic of a comprehensive guide from Ireland.

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland have also published the extensive research that underpins the guidelines. Although the resource has a focus on conditions in Ireland, there is good information for everyone. It includes useful examples and design checklists. 

There are five sections to the guidelines that can be downloaded separately: Introduction, Location and Approach, Entering, Exiting and Moving Around, Spaces for Living, and Elements and Systems. Or you can download the sizeable guide in one go.  

Apart from some of the other issues of ageing (although dementia can be experienced at any age), key factors to be considered in the design are:

● Impaired rational thinking, judgement, and problem-solving 
● Difficulty with memory (initially short-term but progressing over time to long-term memory difficulties)
● Problems learning new things
● Increasing dependence on the senses
● Fear anxiety and increased sensitivity to the built and psycho-social environment 

App for adapting homes to be dementia-friendly

A 3D layout of a home looking down to see the room layouts.Assessing an existing home for its level of dementia-friendliness is made easier with a new App called IRIDIS. It was devised by researchers at Sterling University. Most people think dementia is about memory loss, but this is only part of the story. Visual perception is a major factor in getting out and about and around the home. Colour contrasts and lighting become more important for people with dementia along with any other health conditions they might have. An article from UK on Homecare.co.uk webpage has more. The IRIDIS App can be found on Google Play and Apple Store. It is useful for family members and professionals alike.