The Living Lab
Residents with dementia are often so vulnerable that they are completely reliant on their physical and social environment. As a result, they have little influence on their quality of life. It is therefore essential that the living environment meets the needs of these residents. At the same time, we believe that the requirements we set for the living environment for people with dementia also increase the standards for a regular living area. If someone with dementia can orient themselves better in a building due to an improvement in the situation, this may also apply to someone without dementia. In other words, the lessons we learn when improving the living environment for people with dementia may also be relevant for housing for seniors without dementia.
Nursing home Sint Jozefoord is a Living Lab in which the empathetic living environment for now and the future is being built and tested in practice. How can the care facilities of Sint Jozefoord transform into a stimulating living environment that improves the quality of life?
In this living lab, we develop spatial and technological design solutions for the common spaces in the nursing home: the corridor and the living room.
It is expected that neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as agitation, will decrease by improving spatial orientation for people, achieving a balance of stimuli and encouraging social interaction. So that the quality of life of residents in a care facility is improved.
Research was conducted in four consecutive phases. Using literature research, observations, and questionnaires, the problems, limitations, needs, and possibilities of the target group were determined. This knowledge and experience was then translated into architectural design guidelines that improve spatial orientation and social interaction, and lead to balance in stimuli. These guidelines are divided into three building layers: objects, surface finishes, and spatial design.
These guidelines were integrated into design solutions that are suitable for the context. These design solutions were developed in collaboration with the organization. And applied in a new construction project and a renovation project. Finally, the effects of the realized design solutions were studied in five experiments.
In the dining area of the living room of St. Jozefoord, a ‘live painting’ was created: a television screen showing a loop of a calming moving image. In this case, swimming fish and a pond with a duck floating in it. The living painting provides residents with a peaceful, constant, dynamic stimulus. This stimulates the balance of stimuli and spatial orientation, reducing agitation in residents.
The outcome so far
The solutions have been recorded in ‘inspiration boards’ that can serve as a starting point when drafting a program of requirements for new constructions or when renovating the living environment for people with dementia. These boards can also help in assessing small adjustments to the space. Additionally, the tool is a means to evaluate the existing space or the design of a space in terms of how much the environment promotes the quality of life for residents.