NYC Healthcare News

Stimulating care homes can help people living with dementia

August 20, 2015

Residents should be aware of ordinary activities such as cooking and laundry going on around them. Sam Cole, who is currently studying product and furniture design at Kingston and was one of four students who were involved in the project, designed a tea bar where visitors could sit with their relative and chat. "Things like making a cup of tea safely for a guest can help people with dementia remember a normal life," he said.

Design of stimulating activities is a priority. In one care home, the team observed old engine parts laid out on a table. "Some men appreciated the connections with their previous working life," Professor Dalke said. "Parts disappeared and staff found they had been taken back to their rooms." Elsewhere bookcases and televisions created a homely environment, even if the residents weren't able to read books or watch tv. The team urged developers to design spaces with plenty of natural light and sheltered outdoor seating.

Professor Dalke has been looking at how design can affect vulnerable people for more than 15 years. Her input is sought by architects and developers worldwide on healthcare, retail, transport and prisons.

She concluded: "Many care home professionals believe that a building with a lack of design for independent living can itself cause a rapid decline for residents with Alzheimer's disease. People who have been moved to a more stimulating home have shown significant improvement in their physical or mental condition that was not directly attributable to greater luxury or more staff."

SOURCE Design Research Centre, Kingston University