The Living Lab
Seniors with severe dementia can no longer continue to live at home and must move to an intramural residential care environment (nursing home). However, many intramural residential care environments no longer meet the needs of residents. The healthcare organization RSZK healthcare professionals in the Kempen wants to provide space for over 420 residents with dementia in the coming years. To meet the demand and wishes of residents, there are plans for renovations, expansions, and new construction.
The organization wants to know how to improve and make the real estate that is intended for seniors with dementia future-proof. The current real estate varies greatly: there is large-scale and small-scale living, and the spatial layout also differs. They ask to establish design principles and requirements for a smart intramural residential care environment for seniors with dementia.
The project aims to develop design principles and preconditions for a future-oriented and smart residential care environment for seniors with dementia through co-creation with residents, staff, and caregivers of RSZK healthcare professionals. The design principles and preconditions will focus on the space.
We use different research methods to develop design principles, preconditions and specific products. This includes literature studies and building analyses, as well as interviews with residents and caregivers and behavioural observations. For example, we conducted an experiment with door stickers: do they help people with dementia with their orientation if we introduce variations in the appearance of the doors in a hallway? To test this, we covered all doors in one nursing home with an image of a door, paying attention to having different colours on doors next to and across from each other. We measured the situation before and after the intervention in terms of spatial orientation and atmosphere.
We have drawn up a model containing design principles and preconditions for a number of areas in the building: the entrance and reception, the corridor, the meeting place, individual space and the sanitary facilities. Some interventions have been tested within RSZK healthcare professionals. As a result of the door sticker experiment, we have developed guidelines for implementing a welcoming, friendly, and recognizable entrance door for each individual resident’s space. This promotes social contact and spatial orientation of residents with dementia. The method can be applied to new construction, expansion and renovation projects within the healthcare organization.