The design of the physical environment is now recognised as a vital aid in the care of people living with dementia. Good design increases the wellbeing of patients, family members and staff, as well as increasing mobility, way finding and functionality.
According to Alzheimers Australia, there are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia. This number is expected to increase to 400,000 in less than five years. We believe it is essential that any aged care development take this into consideration and design the physical environment to be as enabling as possible for residents living with dementia. SPH will use the following resources during the design phase to ensure this is achieved:
- Dementia Facility Environmental Checklist (published by Dr Richard Flemming + Ian Forbes)
- DesignSmart: The rating tool for environments that work for people with dementia (developed by HammondCare’s Dementia Centre)
- iPad App BEAT D – Built Environment Assessment Tool: Dementia
- Benchmark the design against the Dementia Enabling Environment Principles (DEEP)
- Consult with Alzheimer’s Australia WA and have a design review undertaken
Environmental assessment tools are not only useful for auditing existing built environments but can be used to review design proposals. SPH adopted this approach for the Narrogin Cottage Homes project, auditing the design using one such assessment tool. Dementia enabling design principles were also captured in the brief and Alzheimer’s WA undertook 2 design reviews, one during the briefing phase and another during schematic design.
Through peak bodies like Alzheimer’s Australia WA, SPH is able to keep abreast of new technology and FF&E that support people living with dementia. Examples include appropriate selection of artwork with a preference for representative as opposed to abstract styles; dementia specific wardrobes designed to reduce confusion; and the use of a night light over the toilet which detects movement making it easier for residents to locate the toilet at night. All selections will be presented to the client and following approval specified and scheduled as part of our interior design process.