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Loughborough University to create dementia-friendly demonstration home

Friday 19 May 2017

The creation of a new ‘dementia-friendly’ home aimed at learning how better to support those affected by the condition will open its doors this Autumn.

The 100sqm Victorian house on the BRE Innovation Park in Watford, will be adapted to cater for different types and stages of the debilitating illness, and is aimed at allowing sufferers to live independently by addressing their day-to-day needs.

The tailored features of the property have been designed by researchers from Loughborough University and building science centre, BRE. Once complete, it will act as a show home and give developers, care providers and families, an opportunity to learn better ways to equip a home to help people with dementia.

As part of Loughborough’s ongoing research in this area, academics will also study how the features are used, with a view to further improving ways to support homeowners with dementia.

The converted building’s features will include:

  • Clear lines of sight and colour-coded paths through the home that help guide people towards each specific room.
  • Increased natural lighting – proven to help people stay alert during the day and to sleep better at night.
  • Noise reduction features – to lower the chances of stress.
  • Simple switches and heating controls, and safety sensors in high risks areas such as the kitchen.

The project draws expertise from a number of specialisms at Loughborough, from the schools of building and engineering, design, and sport – and is based on a wealth of dementia research carried out at the University.

The demonstration house is based on the ‘design for dementia principals’ previously developed by Dr Rob McDonald and Bill Halsall at Liverpool John Moores University.

Professor Jacqui Glass, of Loughborough’s School of Civil and Building Engineering, is the University’s principal investigator on the £300,000 project. 

Commenting on the project, she said:

"Most people experiencing dementia wish to remain at home, so the design and construction of new dwellings or home conversions are paramount. With this project we want to show how design solutions can be easily integrated within most current homes and communities to improve people’s lives".

Director of BRE Innovation Parks, Dr David Kelly said:

"Our aim here is to show how homes can be adapted to better meet the needs of dementia sufferers and delay the need for care by the state for months or even years. Currently, the average cost of state care is between £30,000 to £40,000 per annum. Creating environments which allow people to live independently at home for longer could save a significant amount. That money could instead be channelled into research that alleviates the condition and reduces the emotional stress to the individual."

Dementia care costs families around £18 billion a year and affects about 850,000 people in the UK. The figure is expected to rise to more than one million in the UK by 2025. Two-thirds of the cost of dementia is paid by those who suffer from the condition and their families. This is in contrast to other conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, where the NHS provides care that is free at the point of use.

If you would like further information about the project, please contact Linda McKeown, BRE, on linda.mckeown@bre.co.uk or email Judy Wing at Loughborough University, on j.l.wing@lboro.ac.uk.