Dementia Friendly Design For Lifts
A guide on specifying lifts for dementia-friendly design, the principles and a helpful dementia design checklist for your lift…
Dementia: An introduction
Dementia remains one of the biggest problems facing our ageing population, causing more disability in later life than cancer, heart disease or strokes. It costs the UK an estimated £34.7 billion a year, which is set to rise sharply to £94.1billion by 2040.
The Alzheimer's Society reports around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK currently. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040, so it’s hardly surprising that this now needs to be a key consideration for existing and new buildings.
Studies have shown that cognitive impairment, which affects people suffering from dementia, can be aggravated by certain building designs, which with careful planning, can easily be avoided at little extra cost.
Stairs in particular can cause issues for those with dementia, as perception of both depth and colour contrast can be affected. This makes it hard for those affected to judge where they are stepping and makes accidents a far more likely occurrence.
The challenge of designing buildings that are suitable for use by everyone, including senior living. Increasingly NHS trusts, private nursing care providers, local authorities and housing associations are looking to design spaces for dementia care.
The Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) works to improve the lives of people living with dementia, with an ethos to make communities more dementia-friendly through design, and they offer a dementia design course (RIBA CPD) on the subject.
Over 25 years of research by the DSDC shows that buildings following dementia-friendly design guidelines can significantly help minimise the disorder's psychological effects, as well as physical symptoms such as falls and incontinence.
Dementia-friendly hospital lift design
Modern hospitals are busy, noisy places. People with dementia can find this environment extremely difficult to navigate, and the raft of different specialisms and terms can be confusing. As a result, it may not always be obvious to dementia sufferers where the hospital lift is, and there are not always staff on hand to assist with this.
The Health Technical Memorandum 08-02 (HTM) gives comprehensive guidance and advice on hospital lifts and escalators within new builds and on upgrading and modernising existing buildings. There are no specific references to creating dementia-friendly hospitals within the HTM.
However, the DSDC Virtual Hospital shows how the careful consideration of design elements within a building can make a hospital setting dementia-friendly, including hospital lift design.
Dementia care home design for lifts
To accommodate care home dementia design, every interior design aspect must be considered. From the signage used throughout to the style of taps and plumbing in bathroom facilities, even patterns on the floor or a mixture of colours can cause momentary confusion - leading to trips or falls.
The dementia design guide gives clear information on design within new care buildings and a useful reference tool for owners. The guidance is based on addressing the symptoms of the illness and understanding the changes associated with dementia. This can help to prevent falls and give residents greater freedom and independence for longer.
Dementia sufferers often have visuospatial problems and cannot see 3D, an issue which, if not addressed through design, can lead to an increased risk of trips and falls. As many dementia sufferers often struggle to negotiate stairs and there is an increased risk of falls due to confusion, having adequate and suitable lift facilities within care homes is essential.
You can find full guidance on specifying lifts for care homes and retirement homes in our blog Specifying lifts for care homes.
The Design Audit Tool for Care Homes, Day Centres and Medical Centres
The University of Stirling Dementia Design Audit Tool provides a framework for making decisions about the design and spaces for people with dementia in buildings, new buildings and refurbishment projects in care homes, day centres and medical centres.
Under the audit, three different certification levels can be obtained:
- Bronze (60-74%) means a building is an adequate example of design for people with dementia,
- Silver (75-89%), means it is a good example of design for people with dementia,
- and Gold (90% or above) means a building displays an excellent example of design for those with dementia.
Overall scoring is from a mix of essential and recommended category points. The final score is weighted according to category. Lifts are covered within section 1 of the 11 sections of the audit tool and account for eight recommended points out of 42 (3.4% of the total overall score). A platform or passenger lift can be used to get the recommended points.
The guidance notes for the audit tool do not make recommendations for the most suitable type of lift specification, but they recommend seeking further advice from BS8300, relevant building regulations and the Equality Act.
Dementia Design Checklist
Whichever lift type is the most suitable to suit the building and user requirements, some items can be added to the lift specification for health and social care. Here are some of our top tips for lift specification regarding dementia-friendly lift design…
Lift specification and finishes
Lift landings and location
Running through this checklist should help to create a lift that gets full points in the Design audit tool and a lift that is designed to be as dementia-friendly as possible.
How Stannah can help
With the number of people with dementia predicted to reach a staggering two million by 2051, designing dementia-friendly retirement homes or other buildings suitable for dementia sufferers is an essential consideration that shouldn’t be ignored.
With over 50,000 installations across the UK and nearly 100,000 units in our service portfolio, we offer a wide range of lift solutions and services to move people and goods. Take a look at our product range or simply get in touch.Contact Us