the outdoors encourages exercise and purposeful activities such as gardening or feeding the birds. This connection can even bring benefits when viewed from indoors, where natural ventilation is key for comfort and wellbeing.

While the typical institutional layout hampers access to the outdoors with long corridors, turns and stairways along the way, our modular design brings nature closer to each community living space. Just like a small garden at home, the area around each pod is easy to navigate and obstacle-free, which provides a sense of familiarity and freedom, even for the less mobile.

In Leicester, HSSP Architects recently designed a garden space in a care home that echoed an old-fashioned seaside resort, with multi-coloured beach huts. Our memories of our childhood tend to be happy ones and are easier recalled by dementia patients who struggle with short-term memory loss. By using the beach huts in the space, we used a device to help residents remember care-free times.

Visual comfort also extends indoors, with a need to minimise exposure to unhelpful stimuli for residents with dementia. Patterned walls and flooring or chaotic décor can increase confusion and stress, while soothing artwork, block colours and carefully-chosen visual cues as to the purpose of each room will aid recognition and comprehension.


Dementia affects all five of the senses, also impairing the ability to distinguish and differentiate between different stimulus. This, coupled with the fact that an increasing number of residents with dementia are over 80 and probably suffering with hearing impairments, means that thoughtful acoustic design can make a marked contribution to helping people to live well in a care environment.

Smaller spaces with better acoustics can help avoid sensory over-stimulation and keep noise at a more familiar level found at home, rather than in an institutional setting. Small-scale lounges naturally reduce the volume of televisions, radios and chatter in a communal area, whilst quiet areas built into the layout provide pockets of respite away from noise.

Clearly the age-old institutional design has no place in modern caregiving for people with dementia and more thoughtful approaches to all aspects of design have been proven to support a better quality of care and quality of life.

The number of people living with dementia is rising by the day, so the challenge sits with the commercial sector to find a cost-effective design solution that meets the needs and expectations of this growing patient community – and their families. We believe this requires a rethink of everything that care homes used to be, and that thoughtful and innovative design holds the key.

Shiſting the industry’s mindset from the provision of care homes to designing homes that care can deliver a better life and more effective treatment for people living with dementia. - 29 -

Shifting the industry’s

mindset from the provision of care homes to designing

homes that care can deliver a better life and more effective treatment for

people living with dementia.


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