Dementia Centred

Martin Quirke's picture

By Martin Quirke

February 25th, 2019

Evidence Based Design - Tapping into Research

When the Iris Murdoch Building opened in 2003, it was the first known dementia-friendly public building in the world.  Its primary purpose was, and still is, to be a demonstration setting where people can come to learn about dementia, care, and design, within a building that itself showcases best practice in dementia-friendly design.

Whilst the dementia principles have remained relatively unchanged, with growing research evidence we continually develop more nuanced understandings of how design can help to maximise independence and wellbeing. Some features, such as access to daylight, and the control of noise are now considered to be more important than ever. We have a better understanding of the potential effects of colour, tone and contrast, on a person’s ability to see and understand their surroundings. And we know that design that accommodates a wider range of individual preferences, abilities and lifestyles is more likely to achieve successful outcomes. A key aspect of this is buildings that can easily adapt to the changing needs of the individual over time.

The DSDC aims to ensure that the Iris Murdoch Building is regularly updated reflect the evidence base. Most recently a range dementia-friendly taps have been installed in our main male and female toilets. These new taps comprise a mixture of styles deemed by research to be the most accessible for people living with dementia - using design features that make them easier to see, and be more recognisable, whilst also having indicators that make them easy to understand, and operation that makes them physically easier to use for people with reduced hand strength or arthritis. For comparison purposes, we left one example of the original taps in place. Discrete temperature regulation values provide unobtrusive protection from scalding.

Although preferences of tap styles differ – overall responses from visitors suggest that this latest intervention contributes positively to the education and demonstration role that the Iris Murdoch Building continues to fulfil.

This demonstration installation was made possible by the kind donation of taps and temperature regulating valves by British tap ware manufacturer, Bristan.  

The DSDC at University of Stirling offers a product design accreditation service, which incorporates a robust systematic and evidenced based review method. Accredited building products, subject to correct installation, are automatically approved under the DSDC Dementia Design Accreditation scheme (widely known as The Stirling ‘Gold’ Design Award).

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Categories: Dementia Design