Title

Building Ideas: Research Impacting Design Impacting Research

Publication Title

Alzheimer's Care Today

Publication Date

9-2003

Document Type

Article

Keywords

architecture, environmental design, Alzheimer's, dementia, nursing homes

Disciplines

Architecture | Environmental Design | Other Architecture

Abstract

Outline

  • SIZE
  • NONINSTITUTIONAL DESIGN
  • SIGNAGE
  • SENSORY STIMULATION
  • SAFETY
  • OUTDOOR SPACES
  • CONCLUSION
  • REFERENCES Neighborhoods, clusters, and households. Curio cabinets at bedroom entrances. All private rooms. Decentralized staff work spaces. Home-like décor . These are but a few of the design features that are commonly seen in dementia care settings, which are usually described as being better than the old way of designing long-term care buildings. But just because something is popular doesn't necessarily mean it's better. After all, nursing homes built in the 1960s weren't designed to be ugly or dysfunctional. It's just that our thoughts about what constitutes good design have changed. How much of that change is based on research? Some, but probably not as much as you might think. * This column, and the one in the next issue, will examine how environmental research has impacted the design of dementia care settings in particular, and increasingly, long-term care settings in general. What we are learning is that probably 95% of what is good for people with dementia (such as increased personalization, control and autonomy, better orientation cues, etc) is also good for other, noncognitively impaired residents (and visitors and staff, too). Tracing the impact of research on the practice of designing environments for people with dementia is difficult. Design and construction is a lengthy and expensive process. Two or more years may pass between the time the design process begins (ideally with input from the eventual users of the building—the residents, family members, and staff) and the building is actually completed and ready for occupancy. Then it can easily take another year before all the kinks are worked out and the users settle into a more comfortable routine.

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