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  

Healing Architecture in Hospitals

An aerial view of the hospital layout showing the landscaping.An obvious place to think about healing architecture is hospitals and health centres. The underpinning philosophy is that the physical environment can make a difference to the speed at which patients recover or adapt to acute and chronic conditions. Bindu Guthula discusses this using case studies from Germany, Denmark and Congo. Gardens and nature, colour and lighting, sounds and aromas are discussed by as well as the built environment. The article includes a checklist from the Center for Health Design for the built environment. This comprehensive article is in the Design for All Institute of India Newsletter (page 155). This international newsletter is a large document and all text is in bold type.  

UD makes for dementia friendly hospitals

Front cover of the documentHospitals 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.