Design considerations for people living with dementia

by Madelein
Design considerations for people living with dementia

“Design is one of the major nonpharmaceutical interventions for people with dementia. We can really keep people confident and independent for as long as possible.” – Professor Mary Marshall, Dementia Services Department Centre, University of Sterling

“With about 50-million people currently living with dementia around the world, and 10-million new cases reported every year, we need to create spaces that contribute to an improved quality of life for those living with dementia,” says Wendy Mitrovich, brand manager of Polyflor South Africa, distributors for global leaders, Gradus and Polyflor.

Both global companies are very active in the dementia design space and work with a community of product developers and medical experts who contribute to intelligent and carefully planned healthcare design. Both recognise the importance of the interior as part of the overall healing and care of people living with dementia.

People with dementia see the world differently. What may look normal to you could potentially disorientate them, causing distress or even injury. As a result, the buildings they use must be designed with a deep understanding of the ways in which those with dementia will experience them from the types of materials used to the interplay of different colours.

Polyflor’s Gradus wall protection range is perfectly suited to dementia design and serves to protect both the building and its occupants.

Dementia-centred design principles to consider

Keep it simple and warm
Open-plan, simple, easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow layout is critical. Orientation, spatial recognition and a sense of ownership are important design considerations. Make sure you appreciate the issues that dementia patients have with spatial perception, such as difficulty understanding spaces such as doorways, knowing that glass doors are there or distinguishing objects from their surroundings.

Understand visual and spatial perception requirements
Excellent lighting and a strong colour contrast are necessary to help patients distinguish between various items, levels and spaces.

Use nature, light and views
The importance of access to a safe, calming natural environment cannot be underestimated. Explore and implement the health and wellness advantages of biophilic design in your planning. For example, beautiful, soothing views provide landmarks to help dementia patients understand where they are. They also provide natural light, so patients know what the weather is like and what time of the day it is.

Assist with wayfinding and navigation
Build in wayfinding methods using landmarks, colours, symbolism, clever layout and prominent signage. Use a clear, bold font in a colour which contrasts well with the background.

Think about the feel you are creating
Try to ensure your design maximises independence as well as a sense of belonging and comfort. This helps to reduce anxiety.

Keep it safe and quiet
Consider safety at all times, particularly with regard to slips and trips. A noisy environment is stressful for dementia patients, so be aware of acoustics, both in communal areas and in private rooms .

For more information on the factors to consider when designing for Dementia, please contact Polyflor:
Tel: +27 (11) 609 3500 (speak to Blythe or Wendy)
Email: marketing@polyflor.co.za
Website: www.polyflor.co.za

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