When design for dementia, in order to be successful, the designer needs to focus on the ability, not the disability, says Rama Gheerawo. At the Helen Hamlyn Centre the students found out that people eat more on a dark blue plate because white food on a white plate is often difficult to see for older people with bad eye sight.
Being able to eat and drink in a dignified manner is very important. Tableware includes pieces that compensate for poor vision and dexterity, and improve the experience for those who can no longer feed themselves.
Dining areas make surface areas easily accessible so residents can balance themselves as they move through the space.
Design work for the bedroom environment has focused on developing new dressing furniture designed specifically for people with dementia. Drawers allow residents to see inside without the need to open them and whole outfits fit onto a single hanger design so clothing can be easily prepared and laid out by staff for a resident to dress themselves. Room layouts can be reconfigured as needs change, using rail and hook systems drawn from the retail sector.
The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA organises its practice-based research activity within three research labs: Age & Ability, Health & Patient Safety, and Work & City. Each lab works with a range of academic and business partners, and with funding from UK research councils. Link here for the website.
Also, a short video can be found here.
The designers discuss their research as well as other designs they created.