Dementia-friendly home shows how housebuilders can future proof new builds

July 16, 2018 / Isla MacFarlane
Dementia-friendly home shows how housebuilders can future proof new builds

A new ‘dementia friendly’ demonstration home has raised questions over whether the homes we build today give the future enough consideration.

The demonstration home has been developed jointly by building science research centre BRE and experts from Loughborough University. The building is aimed at helping educate housebuilders, carers and relatives on how to better support those living with dementia.

The design is geared to help dementia sufferers remain at home for longer than in a normal home, thus dramatically improving quality of life and reducing the cost of care to the state and relatives.

The dementia-friendly converted terrace house includes:

  • Clear lines of sight and colour-coded paths through the home that help guide people towards each specific room;
  • Increased natural lighting, which is proven to help people stay alert during the day and to sleep better at night;
  • Automatically controlled natural ventilation to provide good indoor air quality
  • Noise reduction features, to reduce stress;
  • Simple switches and heating controls, and safety sensors in high risk areas such as thekitchen;
  • Homely, simple and familiar interior design to help promote rest and relaxation.

Eve Hogervorst, Professor of Psychology at Loughborough is the university’s principal investigator on the project. She said, “Most people experiencing dementia wish to remain at home, so the design and construction of new dwellings or home conversions are paramount. With this project we want to show how design solutions can be to be easily integrated within most current homes and communities to improve people’s lives.”

The 100sqm Victorian house which has been adapted is larger than the average new build, which could prompt housebuilders to rethink the size of the properties they build. Incorporating features such as moveable walls would also make adapting homes quicker and cheaper.

Dementia care costs families around £18 billion a year and affects about 850,000 people in the UK. The figure is expected to rise to more than one million in the UK by 2025. Two-thirds of the cost of dementia is paid by those who suffer from the condition and their families. This is in contrast to other conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, where the NHS provides care that is free at the point of use.

A home that promises to shoulder some of the burden – both emotionally and financially – would certainly ease the minds of potential buyers.

Director of BRE Innovation Parks Dr. David Kelly, said, “Many of the ideas put forward in the prototype home are just good sense for us all to incorporate into our properties to adapt to the process of ageing. Currently, the average cost of care can be between £30,000 – £40,000 per annum. Creating environments which allow people to live independently at home for longer could save a significant amount. That money could instead be channelled into research that alleviates the condition and reduces the emotional stress to the individual.”

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