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DEMENTIA-FRIENDLY DESIGN


residents, staff, and visitors, could interact at different levels, allowing individuals the flexibility to engage on their own terms. The communal block at the centre of the complex is overlooked by the reception, and we have designed it so that, while a reasonably large space, there are focal points and a kitchenette where residents can interact. Shared communal break-out facilities and amenity spaces are located along the main internal street to encourage informal, ad hoc meetings as residents go about their day-to-day business. We have deliberately incorporated corridors – called ‘streets’ in this development – wider than standard guidelines, to allow for more chance meetings and the ability for people to pause and chat. At the end of the streets we have taken another cue from domestic designs, placing a small glazed seating area where residents can sit, look out, meet friends or visitors, and relax. This mini- conservatory also gives residents a destination for a stroll, and offers a place to sit and rest before making their way back.


Lighting the way


We cannot overstate the importance of good quality light in a dementia care environment. According to the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University, by the time people are aged about 75, they need twice as much light as normal lighting standards recommend, and nearly four times as much as a 20-year-old, in order to see satisfactorily. Most people with dementia are older, and will get frustrated and stressed by not being able to see what is going on or what they are trying to do. The implication for care environments is that twice the ‘normal’ light is required.


We have purposefully created a bright and cheery building with lots of sunlight and plenty of views out. The design


The hub is linked via four internal streets, branching out to clusters of six apartments or ‘communities’, each with its own shared social spaces.


incorporates a great deal of transparency – with its glazed internal walkways and meeting alcoves, which offer external views, generous light penetration, and clear wayfinding, and also allow for effective observation.


Access to natural light is also incredibly important in boosting mood and mental health, while helping to maintain a good circadian rhythm, which in turn aids sleep duration and quality. Where artificial light is required, we’ve worked closely with our engineers to ensure that it is of the best quality, maintaining uniformity to make spaces appear more attractive. People with dementia can easily misinterpret what they are looking at. They may mistake a shadow for a strange person, or think that the pattern in the wallpaper, or the reflection in the windows, is someone looking in at them. Our lighting designs thus pay careful heed to reducing glare and minimising reflections.


A holistic approach


As architects, we firmly believe that well- considered, effective, and holistic design can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of occupants in any building. The impact of the built environment on our health and wellbeing has been debated widely in recent years, and with wellbeing assessments such as the WELL Building Standard also now commonplace, the impact of design decisions on healthcare has long been understood. As far back as 1984, Dr Robert Ulrich, a professor of architecture at the Centre for Healthcare Building Research at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, wrote an influential paper which, using clinical data, revealed that patients with window views of nature had shorter post-operative hospital stays. Meanwhile, a 1995 study by the Center for Health Design at the University of California found that 95 percent of people who walk through hospital gardens report a therapeutic benefit.


The design incorporates a great deal of transparency – with its glazed internal walkways and meeting alcoves.


THE NETWORK | APRIL 2020


The Social Care Institute for Excellence has suggested that people with dementia will generally be less likely to become agitated and distressed if they can have regular access to fresh air and exercise, and a quiet space away from others, as needed. Since ensuring quality views is essential to help promote stimulation and memory, at The Croft we have positioned areas of landscape in between each of the wings for people to look out onto. Courtyards have been created between apartment clusters, offering each apartment direct access to the landscaped gardens and spaces. Further afield, existing trees were retained, and supplemented with additional native planting, to provide a parkland green for the new centre. As a whole, the landscaping has been carefully considered to allow for accessibility and limited maintenance, encouraging residents to follow a conventional life pattern. An undeveloped space next to the buildings will be converted into allotments for use by residents and the community, offering


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