DSDC is the world leader on the design of services and environments for people with dementia.

The Centre has been invaluable in supplying both learning opportunities and research based evidence to support our endeavours to provide a dementia friendly environment within the acute hospital setting
Senior Nurse
Older Adult Practice Development


Niall McLaughlin   Design
Niall McLaughlin speaks about the importance of dementia-friendly environments

Other Material

The importance of:

Colour and contrast
Orientation and signage
Getting outside
Communal areas

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For over 25 years DSDC’s multidisciplinary team of clinical specialists, architects and designers have been promoting the importance of design for people with dementia. We have developed a unique insight into what can be done to support people with dementia, based on research and evidence of what makes a difference.

What we do

At DSDC we offer the following core services:

Why design matters

Design is about more than shaping the physical environment to counter the impairments which come with dementia.  It involves addressing standards, practices and behaviours of professional staff and changing the way people with dementia are engaged with in the environments in which they live.

Age-related changes and impairments can make it more difficult to understand and navigate the built environment. These can be sensory, mobility or cognitive impairments, and sometimes a combination, which can affect functioning, behaviour, independence, and ultimately, quality of life. Understanding such impairments is the first step towards creating living environments which support the needs of older people and those with dementia, keeping them safe from dangers such as falls, which can have a devastating effect on an older person; allowing the freedom and confidence to use their abilities to the fullest extent, in all things from the mundane to the creative; aiding memory in day-to-day living; and reinforcing personal identity.

Evidence shows what delivers dementia-friendly design:

  • Specialist knowledge and advice is key at all stages of any redesign or development
  • Addressing physical issues such lighting, colour contrast, signage, textures and sensory stimulation is not enough on its own
  • Tackling service and physical change together delivers better results
  • Technology and adaptations – many of them inexpensive – can have a positive impact
  • Using the arts as an integral part of design can offer lasting benefits for people with dementia
  • Improving the care environment has a direct link to improved care standards and enhanced reputation.