One of the key elements of dementia is a reduced ability to filter information, leading to confusion, perceived forgetfulness and frustration. A great example of this can be seen in the following youtube video:
In our commitment to continuous learning, a team from Hodgkison recently attended the Designing For People With Dementia workshop run by the NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre. This complex subject was presented in a clear, interactive way by Professor Richard Fleming and Tara Graham Cochrane. Interesting workshop style activities were facilitated, allowing delegates to critically analyse some existing facilities and envision the perfect day for a person with dementia in their care.
Topics covered include:
What is dementia, How can dementia best be managed in our care models, Looking internationally, The future of Australia’s aged population and residential care facilities, Elements of design that have tangible improvements on residents well being, The importance of outdoor spaces, Assessment tools, Recognising areas that can be improved in current facilities and The perfect day – individual choice, dignity, diversity and flexibility.
The course offered a respectful and practical analysis of what to consider when designing for people living with dementia. One of the most powerful design tools discussed in this workshop was the use of helpful stimulation and visual cues. As seen on the video, visual, audio and textural clutter can often cause confusion for people living with dementia. The use of colour, contrast and clear delineation of space can greatly assist a person’s ability to perform basic functions, leading to increased dignity and sense of worth. For example, simple gestures such as having a clear line of sight to the toilet and contrasting toilet seat against floor and surrounding walls, have been found to markedly reduce incontinence issues for many residential care facilities.
This reinforces our expertise in the aged care sector and that key design principles continue to be implemented in all of our projects. As with all forms of design, the workshop highlights that as architects we are constantly testing and challenging the way we can provide optimal solutions to a diverse range of needs and we take pride in being able to contribute to an improved quality of life for the generations before us.