Designing hospitals with dementia in mind

A long wide corridor with lots of confusing lines in a hospital.Most of us feel vulnerable in hospital environments. Usually it’s because of their size, lots of people, corridors and signs. For people with dementia and other cognitive conditions, this can be extra scary. A team of researchers in Ireland gathered the research on designing hospitals with dementia in mind and similar cognitive conditions. They’ve come up with key design themes which are expanded upon in their article:

    • Support engagement and participation
    • Provide a People-centred environment
    • Support patient safety, wellbeing, and health
    • Balance sensory stimulation
    • Support legibility, orientation and navigation’
    • Adequate space to support the particular needs of a person with a cognitive impairment. 
    • Space and supports for accompanying persons and staff

The title of the Cochrane Review article is, Hospital design for older people with cognitive impairment including dementia and delirium: supporting inpatients and accompanying persons. It’s by Grey, Fleming, Goodenough, XIdous, Mohler, and O’Neill.

You can find more on this topic in a search under “hospital” on this website. For example, Hospital design and dementia, and Dementia Friendly Hospitals: An in-depth study


Primary objective: To assess the effects of various built environment interventions, in the form of hospital planning and design approaches and features, on the health and wellbeing of older inpatients with cognitive impairment including dementia and delirium.

Secondary objectives: To assess the effects of built environment interventions on accompanying persons. These interventions consist of any design feature that supports an accompanying person as they assist or accompany the patient in the hospital. To assess the effects of built environment interventions on staff within inpatient wards who are providing care to older patients with cognitive impairment.  To identify gaps in the evidence and outline topics for future research.

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