TCD Team to Develop New Design Guidelines for Homes for People with Dementia

Posted on: 23 November 2012

The Living with Dementia programme run by Trinity College Dublin’s School of Social Work and Social Policy and TrinityHaus at the School of Engineering have been selected to undertake a collaborative study which will result in the development of national guidelines for designing new homes and retro-fitting homes for people living with dementia through a Universal Design Approach. 

Awarded by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) at the National Disability Authorities (NDA), this project aims to provide professionals and all relevant stakeholders with the necessary guidelines to design new homes and to retrofit existing houses so as to enable people with dementia to remain living in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, a stated objective of Government policy.

The project brings together those living with dementia with social scientists, medical gerontologists, architects, and engineers such as leading researchers in dementia, along with other key stakeholders including senior representatives from government agencies and departments including the HSE, the health environment community and local government, to embark in a collaborative process. Associate Professor Suzanne Cahill and Dr. Maria Pierce of the Living with Dementia programme and experienced built environment professionals and Universal Design experts, Professor Mark Dyer and Tom Grey of TrinityHaus are just some of the experts who will be working on the project which will involve case studies and include direct consultation with people with dementia and their families to understand user needs and inform the evidence based guidelines

Dementia is more costly than coronary disease, stroke and cancer combined and is one of the leading causes of disability in later life. In Ireland, there are about 48,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease or one of the related dementias, about two-thirds of whom live at home. Enabling these people to remain at home, enjoy a good quality of life and to live as independently as possible, poses significant challenges for architects, planners and other health service professionals, as in Ireland, up until now, little attention has been focused on developing design guidance for normal domestic dwellings, where in fact most people with dementia live. These design guidelines will be based upon the principles of Universal Design which is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.  

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) was established by the National Disability Authority (NDA) in January 2007 under the Disability Act 2005. CEUD is dedicated to the principle of Universal Design, enabling people in Ireland to participate in a society that takes account of human difference and to interact with their environment to the best of their ability.