World population is ageing and with that the profile of the ‘end-user’ is changing too. Data from the World Population Prospects report1 (2017) estimates the number of people over 60 years to more than double by 2050; representing nearly a quarter of the World’s population. Most notable is the increase in the oldest old (+80 years), which is expected to triple by 2050.
In the context of dementia, dementia is not a consequence of ageing but the risk of having dementia increases with age and therefore designing for ageing and dementia should be an important component of any design brief. It may surprise you to know that a quarter of UK hospital beds are occupied by people living with dementia who are over 652. As specifiers and designers statistical information on the profile of the user, such as this, is likely to influence our design approach. It is therefore important that we as designers refer to the evidence base and value the impact it can have on the individual, their family and those who provide care.
The dementia design principles which our centre first championed in 1989 have been recognised as helping to reduce early admittance to care; to promote and maintain independence; and help older people to remain within a home environment for longer. Dementia-friendly design compensates for the functional deficits associated with dementia (reduction in cognition, perception, and spatial orientation to name a few) but notwithstanding their specific benefits to people with dementia they are also beneficial to the majority – a principle of universal design – and encourage legibility, familiarity, control of stimuli, maximising independence and enhancing self-esteem. It is well recognised that design thinking, applications of design, and technology can contribute to ageing well and with dignity.
Earlier this year, DSDC created the first industry bulletin (titled Products for Dementia) which recognises a new paradigm in dementia design. Manufacturers, specifiers, designers and end-users each looking for products which support the needs of a shifting demographic. Motivated by this ‘industry-call’ we launched our DSDC Product Accreditation in 2017. This evidence based accreditation supports good dementia design and the opportunity for design innovation. Our multi-disciplinary team includes nurses, designers, architects and researchers, each working to improve the lives of people with dementia. Recognising that industry design processes move at a pace unrecognisable to empirical evidence methodologies, we have developed a structured, rigorous assessment methodology in partnership with industry; utilising existing evidence to create impact today.
We welcome this industry bulletin as an opportunity to celebrate the DSDC Product Accreditation service and the variety of products which we have accredited since its inception. We couldn’t do this without the support of our industry colleagues and the rigorous research undertaken by our university colleagues. We hope this bulletin and the products within it inspire you as they have inspired us.
1 World Population Prospects report, 2017
2 Lakely, 2009