Making an environment more dementia-friendly didn’t necessarily have to involve calling in the builders, and can be as simple as rearranging furniture, says expert.
Dementia-friendly design not only enhances the well-being of residents living with dementia but enables aged care providers to create sustainable environments. That’s according to architect Kirsty Bennett, manager of environmental design education services at the NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre (DTSC), who said it was a myth that providers had to be simplistic when it came to designing dementia-friendly environments.
“Bland, boring, repetitive environments are actually really confusing for a person with dementia,” Ms Bennett told the Leading Aged Services Australia Tri-State conference last week.
Instead, she said providers needed to design environments that were relevant and meaningful for residents living with dementia. A well-designed environment considered resident’s stories – such as their lifestyle, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and interests, said Ms Bennett. However, she also stressed that environments needed to keep recognisable characteristics, considering what residents were familiar with.
The DTSC developed 10 design principles to help create dementia-friendly environments, which Ms Bennett said offered a starting point for innovative and sustainable design. Research had shown these principles reduce negative outcomes for people with dementia, such as agitation, confusion and wandering behaviours, and increase positive outcomes in areas such as mobility, wayfinding and activities of daily living.
Read about the top ten design principles here.