Evidence-based design for individuals with dementia

March 21st, 2011 9:42 am

Maggie Calkins, in one of the morning sessions at Environments for Aging conference, addressed the new design solutions for the dementia individuals, based on field-collected evidence. Based on various studies, she has presented many points that are proven to bring dignity and independence back to dementia patients’ day to day life.

Various community plans

In essence, eliminating long corridors, and centralizing living and staff care, improves resident spacial orientation. Communities with 9-19 units are associated with less anxiety and depression, less psychoactive drug use, greater social interaction and friendship formation type of behaviors. Through an independent study, she had identified the following design plans:

  • Hallway Plan (with more than 66% of doors opening onto a hallway) are no longer sufficient and preferred design format.
  • Open Plan, on the contrary, would include at least 66% of doors open to a living/activity area, and are more beneficial.
  • Cluster/Pod Plan refers to a plan where at least 33% of doors open to a hallway, as well as 33% of doors or more open onto a living/activity space.
  • Household Design is used in a residential-inspired community (entry sequence of spaces and separation between public and private areas) layout.

Contrast Perception Deficit

Dementia residents struggles with seeing items with minimal color contrast. It is up to the design community to understand this fact and provide viable solutions that cue behavior and help with autonomy.

Non-Institutional Design

For research purposes, the agreement on “what constitutes home-like” design has not been clarified enough to provide a meaningful difference for scientists and researchers alike. From a result perspective, if a space contributes to creating less aggression, improvement in functionality and comfort, it certainly is the right direction.

Ambient Lighting

Higher light levels have proven significantly lower agitation and aggravation is residents. Both color contrast and light level increase also can contribute to better digestion and appetite, as well as independent eating ability.

Other topics discussed were the effects of natural light, and access to the outdoors, noise, private vs. shared rooms and their influence on nosocomial infections, levels of agitations and overall happiness.

One Response to “Evidence-based design for individuals with dementia”

  1. Amanda says:

    Love it! Can’t wait to hear about everything you learned!

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