The Dementia Enabling Environments website has a page on home designideas. Some of them are simple and cost nothing, but might not be obvious to the casual observer. The Adapt a House page has a floor plan of five rooms: living room, kitchen/dining, bedroom, bathroom and laundry. It’s interactive, so clicking on a room brings up more detail. For example, in the kitchen they suggest see-through doors on wall cabinets. If replacing an appliance, match it closely to the existing one. In the bedroom colour contrasts are important for finding the bed and other furniture. Block-out blinds on the windows help differentiate between day and night, especially in the summertime. There is lots more information and resources on the website.
The Dementia Enabling Environments web tool was developed by Alzheimer’s WA.
The 2015 edition of the Dementia Friendly Community Environmental Assessment Tool provides a relatively simple checklist that takes in many of the regular aspects of accessibility overlaid with design thought for people with dementia. A good place to start your thinking. The more recent online resource from Dementia Training Australia expands on the 2015 edition and goes into more detail. Sections can be downloaded separately. There are three parts in the handbook:
Part 1 ‘Key Design Principles’ contains a description of key design principles.
Part 2 ‘The Dementia Friendly Community – Environmental Assessment Tool (DFC-EAT)’ introduces the DFC-EAT and provides directions for its use.
Part 3 ‘Using the Spreadsheet’ contains a guide to scoring the DFC-EAT and showing the results graphically.
Good to see some creative thinking in opening a cafe that welcomes people with dementia. The Design Council article explains how this cafe started with two women who were working in a dementia care facility. They wanted to do more for people living in the community. With financial support from the local council and a crowdfunding campaign they raised sufficient funds to get the Moments Cafe up and running. The Cafe has an office facility above and this is used as an administrative centre for the additional activities they run. The article is a case study in the Design Council Transform Ageing series.
Hospitals can be distressing places at the best of times. If you have dementia or other cognitive condition it can be a frightening and disorienting place whether a patient or a visitor. Stressed patients stay longer and need more medication.Taking a universal design approach can provide a better experience. Academic research and consumer input underpins this comprehensive guide to designing dementia-friendly hospitals from a universal design approach. In Ireland, where the guide was developed, they estimate almost one third of patients have dementia and as the population ages this will increase. Of course, dementia friendly design using a UD approach is good and inclusive for everyone. The guidelines are available to read online using Issuu software.
Below is a short video that provides an overview of the design factors that need to be considered in creating a dementia friendly hospital.
There is also a media release that provides an overview of the development of the guidelines and the project partners.
A shiny floor may not be wet but it could look that way to someone with dementia. A black mat isn’t a hole in the ground either. And shadows of lattice through a window can look like steps. Mono coloured features are hard to distinguish too. These design details can easily be overcome with some extra thought about perception at the early design stage, or adapted in existing homes and buildings. The Guardian has an excellent articleabout these issues. It discusses how virtual reality software can bring more awareness to designers about these issues as well as the concepts of universal design.
Editor’s note: taking photos of places and seeing them in two dimensions instead of three really highlights the perception differences.
Dementia Australia has produced an app for tablets and smartphones to help with creating a dementia-friendly home. It uses interactive 3D game technology which provides carers with ideas on how to make the home more suitable for people living with dementia. Most people with dementia live in the community and many enjoy everyday activities and stay engaged with their communities. Suitable home design is key to staying active and involved.
The App is based on the ten Dementia Enabling Environments Principles and prompts carers and others to think about many of the small inexpensive ideas that can make a big difference. Technology solutions such as sensors for lighting are also covered. Tips include removing clutter and changing busy patterned wall or floor coverings to help with perception and confusion. You can also see some of the research underpinning the Dementia Enabling Environments Principles. To see what it is like to live with dementia, have a look at the Virtual Dementia Experience.
Bank SA has trained their staff to recognise customers with dementia and to help them carry out their banking tasks more comfortably. Often there are simple solutions. For example, as reported in theAge Care Insight article, one customer started to come into the bank weekly instead of fortnightly for her pension. She would become anxious if it wasn’t pension week and no money was deposited. So they set up a system of transferring her money weekly instead of fortnightly so that she regained her confidence in being able to pay her bills. Understanding dementia is key to providing good customer service and supporting people to continue to live in the community. Find out more about the types of dementiaand the warning signs, which include: confusion about time and place; poor judgement; difficulty performing familiar tasks, and problems with words. Memory loss, or forgetfulness is the most likely first symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.
While this set of guidelines is focused on Ireland, there are some good ideas that are not country specific. The online resource produced by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design is divided into separate downloadable sections:
Home location and approach
Entering and moving around
Spaces for living
Elements and systems
The Design Guidelines complement Universal Design Guidelines for Homes in Irelandand are intended as a first step in raising awareness. They provide a flexible framework for designers to apply the guidelines creatively to all new home types through incremental steps. The Home Design Guidelines are informed by research, a literature review of national and international best practice and guidance and a consultation process with key stakeholders.
Wheelchair users have been centre stage when it comes to accessibility, even though there is some way to go when it comes to full inclusion. But now other groups are now being considered in the quest for accessibility and inclusion. People with sensory and cognitive impairments, particularly dementia, are attracting more attention, even if it is only in the research literature. “Inclusive Design” by Karim Hadjri, Yasemin Afacan, Tulika Gadakari, tackle this aspect of design and argue, as with all other inclusive design features, that it needs to be embedded in the early stages of design. The chapter unexpectedly appears in ZEMCH: Toward the Delivery of Zero Energy Mass Custom Homes, and is available from SpringerLink. At least it is good to see the topic nestling between chapters on passive design and energy efficiency.
Abstract: This chapter will explain and discuss the principles, role and importance of Inclusive Design particularly in the context of an ageing society. It will review the changing and complex user needs and requirements through case studies and current work of leading organizations. Current standards used in the UK and elsewhere will be reviewed to establish whether they need to take into account sensory and cognitive impairments into consideration. So far, these have not been fully accepted by industry and practice and more needs to be done by policy makers. Findings of recent research on users’ needs and requirements will be reviewed to highlight the needs for more inclusivity in the design of the built environment. Additionally, barrier-free design and Inclusive Design will be further examined to assess the use of technology in embedding accessibility during the design stage. This chapter will allow students, lecturers and designers to understand the value and purpose of Inclusive Design and its potential to provide an accessible and age-friendly built environment.
You will need institutional access for a free read.