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By Martin Quirke

September 21st, 2020

Improving Assessment of Design for Ageing and Dementia

Since it was first published in 2008, the Dementia Design Audit Tool (Cunningham et al.) has helped to grow and sustain the global reputation of DSDC and University of Stirling as experts in design for dementia. Stirling’s ‘Gold Standard’ of dementia design has come to be considered the highest benchmark of dementia design quality. However, having informed some of the best, most dementia inclusive, design for around a decade now the time has come for a review.

Time for renewal

In recent years, we’ve been glad to see a steadily increasing public interest in design for dementia, and associated demand for more information about it. There has also been a steady increase in the frequency with which designers and commissioners have sought to include design for dementia and design for ageing as part of a broader universal design approach – with significant expansion of its application in non-care environments.

This trend is reflected in the types of environments encountered in DSDC design consultancy, which has recently included housing, bus stations, theatres, libraries, gymnasiums and more. We believe this reflects the maturing views of society and government, who more and more, aim to ensure that people with a dementia diagnosis should remain living in the community for as long as possible. This perspective, as a shift away from the mindset that dementia design is only for care homes, is important considering that around 75% of those with a diagnosis of dementia live in the community rather than in formal care.

The volume and quality of available published research has increased significantly in the intervening period. Last year senior researchers from the University of Stirling (Bowes and Dawson, 2019) published the largest known systematic review of literature in this area, on an open-source platform. It feels especially appropriate the DDAT would be reviewed and updated to reflect the refinements that our researchers have identified in this field.

Evolution and Improvement

Some characteristics of the existing audit tool, led to it being fairly widely used and highly valued by some professionals, but the same characteristics have made it less accessible or helpful for some others. Whilst the extensive list of audit items in the tool that help to set the DSDC’c dementia design accreditation standards, the time input required for full assessment may put others off.

We want your help

A part of the review and expansion of the audit tool, we’re looking to consult with people from a wide array of backgrounds. We hope to include the expertise, perspective, and experience of various professionals, older people, care partners, and especially people with dementia. By doing this we hope that in future the audit tool will be better able to support environmental assessment and design processes, across many more types of environment. By testing and refining the tool, and importantly, listening to the feedback of both existing and potential new users, we hope to arrive at a future tool that better suited to the needs of a much larger range of users.

In the webinar video posted below, Dr Martin Quirke explains a little more behind the project, what it will include, and how you can participate If you’re interested in finding out more, or becoming a participant please get in touch with us by email via dementia@stir.ac.uk


Categories: Dementia Design