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Design for dementia course is now offered as RIBA CPD

Design for dementia course is now offered as RIBA CPD

The demographics of dementia and its leading cause Alzheimer’s disease mean that interest in the design of specialist care facilities has grown rapidly over recent years.

The Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC), based at the University of Stirling, is recognised internationally for leading the way on strategies for creating dementia-friendly environments.

Its two-day Design School, which is already regarded as the foremost specialist programme on design for dementia, has just been recognised as approved CPD by the RIBA. It covers a range of design topics for new builds as well as renovations and adaptations.

The DSDC’s Design School covers all aspects of design for dementia, from design principles to signage. Photo © Graphical House, Glasgow.

The DSDC was established 25 years ago. The increasing interest from construction professionals and architects, however, has meant that offering design modules as CPD seemed the obvious way to go, says Chief Architect Lesley Palmer.

‘The growing awareness in health and social care of design for dementia has led to 14% of our training client base being architects,’ says Palmer. ‘In addition to the Design School courses, we hope to able to offer bespoke training packages for practices.’

Design for dedicated care facilities and respite centres is just one aspect of the growing demand.

There is now a general recognition that people with dementia do best in a home environment with family and past history, so there is a growing move towards lifetime homes that would make this easier. At the same time, it is recognised that allowing people to negotiate public buildings and shopping centres successfully will extend their world dramatically.

The extra care housing sector is a key area for new build designed for dementia and other cognitive impairments, says Palmer, with more developers showing interest in achieving the DSDC’s Gold Award. Palmer explains it has been estimated that 37% of people in extra care homes will at some time be diagnosed with dementia.

The DSDC has designed its course to deal with effective commissioning, project management and design principles that can be used from project inception to handover and use. Design topics include air quality, acoustic environments, lighting and the design of outdoor spaces.

Architects completing the course will be provided with their own Dementia Design Audit Tool, developed by DSDC. This contains a series of resources for carrying out self-assessment of environments that are used by people with dementia. The course outcomes support the audit tool, so it becomes a working resource for delegates to take back to their own practice.

The DSDC is based at the Iris Murdoch Building at the University of Stirling, where its Design and Technology Suite and gardens provide a permanent, continuously updated display of the best design ideas for dementia-friendly environments. The centre also has virtual environments that architects can visit online.

DSDC Design School events are currently scheduled for: Newcastle in March 2017; the University of Stirling in May 2017; and the RIBA in London in June 2017.

DSDC’s CPD was approved as part of the RIBA CPD Providers Network. Other accessible design content is also available online.

With thanks to Lesley Palmer, Chief Architect at the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling.

Text by Neal Morris, © RIBA

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