With each passing year, we are more successful at prolonging human life - however, the longer we live, the greater the likelihood of getting a dementia-related disease. Right now, there are 850,000 people in the UK living with Dementia, and that number is expected to almost double over the next 20 years. This anticipated increase in cases means that we will need to build more homes for people living with Dementia. To create the best space, let’s have a look at the leading design best practices.
When we’re designing for people with Dementia, the design needs to really consider the challenges patients experience. Some significant trends that your design needs to promote are, maximising independence, improving self-esteem and confidence, making the space easy to navigate, reinforcing personal identity and controlling stimuli.
To ensure the best possible care for people living with Dementia, an Australia team developed an Environmental Audit Tool (EAT) to combat the negative influences that the built environment can have on people living in nursing homes or other assisted living facilities.
The impact of the built environment
There has been substantial research highlighting the influence that the built environment has on our physiological and psychological wellbeing. This impact is especially true for people living with Dementia, as they are more likely to respond to sensory stimuli.
The recognition of this impact has led to the creation of a handbook that is designed to help architects and contractors build spaces that are friendly for people living with Dementia.
What are the design principles of the Environmental Audit Tool?
The underlying principle of EAT is to design in a way that positively influences a person’s lived experience.
The top design principles of EAT are:
- Have a simple floorplan, using the light and uniform coloured flooring, both inside and outside.
- Provide substantial visual cues to avoid over-stimulating residents. Be sure to include symbols for easier understanding.
- Design for wandering. Don’t have dead ends or areas that are not fenced.
- Have excellent sound absorption and sound insulation to reduce sound reverberation.
- Offer ample access to natural light for good visibility.