further measures, while the upper floor is tailored for the advanced stages. The overall building design was developed around the needs of two specific ‘personas’, Chris and Sally, who convey a design narrative to describe how the building’s features have been adapted to support the pair – played by actors – as they age well at home. The prototype is supported by short films detailing how dementia affects Chris (who lives with the condition), and Sally (who cares for him), ‘on a good, an average, and a bad day’, with different actors re-creating the different stages of dementia. The films were created by one of the key project partners, Loughborough University, which has part-funded the new facility. The personas were developed by Professor Sue Hignett, Charlotte Jais, and Professor Eef Hogervorst. This team, from the University’s Design School and Applied Cognitive Research unit, headed by Professor in Psychology, Eef Hogervorst, also undertook in-depth research – involving extensive liaison with stakeholders including individuals living with dementia – to inform and influence the design.

A platform for sharing knowledge As previously explained, many of the innovations incorporated, and indeed the overall concept for the home, were based on ‘Design for Dementia’ – ‘the outcome from the cumulative knowledge gained through an Innovate Dementia Europe-funded research partnership into living better at home with dementia’. This research was co-ordinated by architect and senior partner at Halsall Lloyd Partnership, Bill Halsall, and Dr Rob MacDonald, a Reader in Architecture at Liverpool John Moores University, in conjunction with Mersey Care NHS, Intereg IVB, Dementia Action Alliance, and the Service Users Reference Forum (SURF). BRE says a distinguishing feature was its ‘participatory nature’; the research process involved healthcare professionals, academics, and carers, along with ‘a living laboratory’ of people living with dementia.

Two-volume design guide The research culminated in 2015’s publication of a two-volume design guide, Design for Dementia – A Guide, authored by Bill Halsall and Dr Rob MacDonald, produced ‘to help designers and others working in the built environment to tackle the challenge of dementia in society’. The authors, both of whom spoke at BRE’s open day, say the premise is that 70-80% of people living with dementia in the UK continue to live in their own homes. They argue that if people can remain living in their own homes and neighbourhoods, ‘the disorientation, confusion, and anxiety’ of a move to a new home can be eliminated. They add: “The approaches described in Design for Dementia can help people living in their own homes sustain their capacity, and maintain their quality of life, for longer, as members of the


Speakers at the half-day seminar included Dr David Kelly (left) of the BRE, Professor Eef Hogervorst (centre) of Loughborough University, and the DiMHN’s Joe Forster (right).

community. If the improvements in the environment and housing provision described can be achieved, the ongoing cost saving to the NHS will be immense.”

Half-day seminar

Before guests from academia, architecture, the nursing and healthcare, housing, local authority, third sector, and care sectors, toured ‘Chris & Sally’s House’ on 8 November, they heard from a range of speakers at a half-day seminar. These included several key members of the project team – including Bill Halsall, Rob MacDonald, Eef Hogervorst, and BRE group director, Dr David Kelly, and individuals with a wider professional interest in dementia. The latter included DiMHN President, Joe Forster, a former mental health nurse who remains involved in teaching, consultancy, and social enterprise, who spoke about dementia and the issues it presents from a broader ‘healthcare’ perspective. Meanwhile, Patrick Bonnett, deputy director and Professor of Practice at the National Centre for Innovation in Ageing at Newcastle University, presented some stark statistics

emphasising the rate at which the global population is ageing, and highlighted the societal impact. Meanwhile, in a presentation titled ‘Housing – Living well with dementia’, Dr Katey Twyford, a PhD Doctoral Researcher at the University of Sheffield for the Housing Learning and Improvement Network, said it was acknowledged that much of the existing housing stock was ‘poorly suited to the needs of older people, and those with dementia in particular’. She added: “Where people with dementia have moved into specialist housing they identify the benefits. Housing with care can play an important role in supporting people with dementia, and fill a gap between mainstream homes and care homes.”

The BRE’s current ‘position’ on dementia Dr Kelly, who acted as facilitator, had earlier set the scene by explaining ‘where BRE is currently on dementia’. He said: “Housing and dementia and an ageing population are something relatively new to us as a business. BRE has been around for almost 100 years, and while we have

A view from the lounge through to the kitchen, bathroom, and ground floor bedroom, and views to the outside to all three aspects. Furnishings have been supplied bv project supporter, John Lewis and Partners, carpeting by Forbo, surface decoration by AkzoNobel, and noise-reducing wall and ceiling insulation by Rockwool.



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