Environmental Design for Dementia

Acute hospitals were not designed with the needs of people with dementia in mind. As the awareness of the needs of a person with dementia in an acute hospital grows, staff are looking to make hospitals more “dementia friendly”. The focus is often on wayfinding and signage, but a truly dementia friendly environment is more than this, in that it can reduce environmental stress, provide support, and provide more healthful and therapeutic spaces. Equally, acute hospitals need to consider the needs of other users, and also their core function, which also influences their design. Thus, Universal Design principles that incorporate the needs of a person with dementia are important.

There are design guidelines available, which provides evidence-based expert guidance. There is also a “how-to” manual developed in Mercy University Hospital, which provides some useful practical advice based on the experience of an occupational therapist implementing design change.

The Environmental Audit tool from INAD-2 is available for download. This audit tool was part of INAD-2 in 2019, but can also be useful for self-audit.