The field of dementia and the design of the built environment is not well understood. Until now. Comprehensive Australian research has resulted in two volumes on the topic. The research looks at current best practice in design, and regional and cultural aspects. It also covers the importance of including people with dementia in the design process. The impact of the pandemic is another discussion point. People with dementia have the same human rights as others and that includes being treated with dignity.
The first volume is about the approach to the topic, the thorny issues, design processes and the 10 principles they developed. The second volume presents 84 case studies from around the world. A collection of day care centres, residential care facilities, and public buildings illustrate good design principles. The case studies include architectural detail and photos illustrate some of the design points.
The title of the report is, World Alzheimer Report 2020: Design, Dignity, Dementia: dementia-related design and the built environment. Authors are Prof Richard Fleming, John Zeisel and Kirsty Bennett.
The report launch webinar gives a good overview. Unfortunately the captions are auto-generated so they aren’t the best. However you can increase the speed and still understand the content.
Principles of dementia
- Unobtrusively reducing risks: Minimise risk factors such as steps and ensure safety features are as unobtrusive as possible.
- Providing a human scale: The scale of buildings can impact the behaviour of people with dementia, so provide a human scale to minimise intimidating features.
- Allowing people to see and be seen: The provision of an easily understood environment will help to minimise confusion. A literal line of sight should be clear for both residents, and staff.
- Reducing unhelpful stimulation: Environments should be designed to minimise exposure to stimuli that are unhelpful, such as unnecessary or competing noises and the sight of unnecessary signs, posters, spaces and clutter.
- Optimise helpful stimulation: Enabling the person living with dementia to see, hear and smell things that give them cues about where they are and what they can do, can help minimise their confusion and uncertainty.
- Support movement and engagement: Providing a well-defined pathway of movement, free of obstacles, can support engagement with people and opportunities.
- Create a familiar place: The use of familiar building design, furniture, fittings and colours affords people with dementia an opportunity to maintain their competence.
- Provide opportunities to be alone or with others: A variety of spaces, some for quiet conversation and some for larger groups, as well as spaces where people can be by themselves, gives people with dementia a choice to how they spend their time.
- Link to the community: The more an environment enables visitors to drop in easily and enjoy being in places that encourage interaction, the more the sense of identity that comes from spending time with loved ones and others is reinforced.
- Design in response to vision for way of life: The way of life offered needs to be clearly stated and the building designed both to support it and to make it evident to the residents and staff.