In a world first earlier this month, a design school for people with dementia was hosted in Birmingham. 

People with dementia worked together with design experts to build a knowledge base about dementia inclusive design.

Read more about the design school coordinated by The Dementia Centre.

Dementia design is not a new topic. 

However, as research continues we uncover new knowledge and new opportunities to improve quality of life through design. 

Dementia Enabling Environment Principles

  • Unobtrusively reduce risks
  • Provide a human scale
  • Allow people to see and be seen
  • Reduce unhelpful stimulation
  • Optimise helpful stimulation
  • Support movement and engagement
  • Create a familiar space
  • Provide opportunities to be alone or with others
  • Provide links to the community
  • Respond to a vision for way of life

The purpose of these guiding principles is to allow people with dementia to continue living as independently as possible.

This is achieved by providing an environment they are safe in as well as encouraged to explore. 

Being free to make their own choices enhances quality of life.

Reducing anxiety caused by excess stimuli or confusing surroundings promotes confidence in decision making and reducing falls and other accidents.

Garden Design Principles

It is important to enable people to continue spending time outdoors safely, especially if they have always enjoyed this in the past.

Spending time outdoors provides an opportunity to engage in light physical exercise as well as to enjoy hobbies.

There are numerous health benefits that include the promotion of normal sleeping patterns, lowered stress in addition to improved mood. 

First of all, making it easy to access the outside area safely means using light, easy to open doors as well as making the outdoor area clearly visible.

Once outside, garden paths can provide a clear route for the person to take. They also minimise trip hazards

Aim to Include:

  • Seating: provide opportunities for people to sit and relax in the outdoor environment
  • Plants: select a variety of plants for different sensory opportunities 
  • Gardening: growing herbs or vegetables provides a familiar activity for people to engage in
  • Camouflaged boundaries: minimise feelings of being contained by creating boundaries that are unobtrusive 
  • Children’s play areas: encourage visitors to spend time outdoors with the resident as well as fostering a sense of community

For more ideas on creating multisensory engagement opportunities outdoors visit Dementia Enabling Environments

Design principles in outdoor areas

Read more about dementia care and John’s Campaign.