The physical environment
Our architectural plans reflect our ambition to create a building that will be an exemplar of specialist supported housing for people with young onset dementia.
The design of our first home, created by Oxford Architects, reflect people’s wishes to live in their own private accommodation. It comprises 12 individual one or two bed flats together with extensive communal living areas for socialising, eating, relaxing, pursuing creative activities, exercising and meditating.
As we are striving to create a home which enables an active life, there will be plenty of space inside and outside of the building for people to exercise, as well as enjoy the therapeutic benefits of being outdoors. As such, each flat will have its own private garden, as well as a communal garden – including a children’s play area and a garden shed.
Of course, design extends far beyond the architectural design and careful thought is being given to the interior décor to ensure that it promotes the independence, comfort and safety of our residents. By way of example, skirting boards and handrails will be in distinctive colours and tableware will contrast with tables to increase the independence of people with visual impairment or problems with co-ordination.
Private accommodation will be adapted to meet people’s needs and conditions and they will be encouraged to personalise their own flats to fit their personality and interests; some residents may choose to decorate their own homes in their own style.
We are also looking at the latest assistive technologies available to help people live as safely and as independently as possible in the home.
Best practice in dementia-friendly design
Oxford Architects have drawn upon a range of guidance about creating optimum living environments for people with dementia to promote independence and wellbeing and to ensure that the home does not have an institutionalised look or feel.
Various design features respond to the particular needs of people with memory and perception issues, as well as those with a physical disability, supporting them to move freely and safely around the building.
Key aspects of the design include:
- maximised use of natural light
- low level windows which can be looked out of from a seated position
- toilets are visible from seated areas and beds
- opposing doors in corridors are staggered
- way-finding is integrated into the design with carefully selected and positioned artwork to assist in orientation within the building
- plenty of places for resting and socialising outside the main café and lounge areas, and outside the building
- a sloped entrance pathway (rather than steps), with handrails for additional support
- full wheelchair accessibility
- each flat will have its own kitchen, however, there will also be a communal eat-in kitchen where staff will prepare meals and encourage residents to get involved in the preparation of meals or baking if they wish
Follows are some of the key best practice documents which have informed our design:
- Dementia Design Checklist by the Health Facilities Scotland and The Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling
- The ‘EVOLVE Tool’ for the design of Extra Care Housing
- Design for Dementia – Improving Dining and Bedroom Environments in Care Homes – Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art Department of Health National
- Minimum Standards Enhancing the Healing Environment (EHE) – King’s Fund and the EHE Environmental Assessment Tool by The King’s Fund Lifetime Homes Standard
We have also drawn upon examples of good practice in dementia and young onset dementia services around the world, as well as reviewed evidence of what works well in other care and housing facilities. This has informed our approach, which is to create services which are truly person and family-centred and which offer people choices about their care.
The design of our first home has also been influenced by the feedback from young onset dementia support groups run by University College London. Further consultation on the design and services is planned to ensure that the final specification meets the needs of the prospective residents.
We believe that the design of our first home will be worthy of recognition nationally and internationally and it will be entered for a number of building design awards such as the University of Stirling’s Gold Award and Building Better Healthcare Awards.
Read more about the research into the needs of people with young onset dementia and best practice across the world in our Learning Centre section.