Incorporating dementia design for a more inclusive built environment

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Architect incorporating dementia design into building.

Embracing dementia design allows Australia’s FMs to create more inclusive facilities for those with the ‘hidden disability’ while boosting their brand.

Released on World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21), the 2019 Alzheimer Disease International Annual Report highlights the growing need for dementia design innovation in society. According to Professor Colm Cunningham, director of dementia care provider HammondCare’s Dementia Centre, the progress made in supporting people with more visible disabilities over recent years has the potential to lay a foundation for new initiatives.

“For example, access ramps into public buildings, pavement level access for public transport, accessible height cash machines. Strategic design underpins this progress, which is equally important in public spaces, care environments and in the home.”

Cunningham says the implementation of design solutions in the built environment not only raises awareness and acceptance but provides new opportunities for business.

“It can be daunting for businesses such as shops, banks, cafes, theatres, transport providers etc. to learn more about dementia and to start to look at dementia-related design.

“But in doing so they are not only fulfilling their role from a disability rights perspective but they are also sending out a strong positive message about their nature and their brand and… helping to increase awareness, which in itself can help reduce stigma.

“(Deciding) where we spend our money, making a decision on a conference venue, a choice of hotel or restaurant and who we travel with should increasingly be based on their embracing of dementia considerate design and their investment in staff awareness.”

Eight design principles, first established by Stephen Judd, Mary Marshall and Peter Phippen in their book Design for Dementia, underpin dementia design initiatives:

  • Reinforce personal identity
  • Maximise independence
  • Enhance self-esteem and confidence
  • Compensate for disability
  • Allow control of stimuli
  • Be orientating and understandable
  • Demonstrate care for staff
  • Be welcoming to others

Despite this framework, Cunningham acknowledges that innovation won’t come easy.

“A key design challenge for innovators will be to span the varied and individual needs of people with dementia while creating spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and that satisfy the functional and at times complex care requirements of the people who live there.”

Those that discover a solution are sure to see both social and financial benefits.

 

Image: 123RF’s scyther5 © 123RF.com

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