Image depicting dementia

Intelligently adapted home will meet the needs of people with dementia showing them how to live easier lives

The creation of a new ‘dementia-friendly’ home aimed at improving the lives of those affected by the condition will begin in the autumn.

The house in Watford which will be adapted to help people with dementia live easier lives

A 100sqm Victorian house, in Watford, will be adapted to cater for different types, and stages, of the debilitating illness, which affects 850,000 people in the UK.

The innovate show home, which will be open to the public, will demonstrate how to live independently by addressing the challenging day-to-day needs faced by those with dementia.

The tailored features have been put together by researchers from Loughborough University and the building science centre, BRE.

Once complete, the converted terraced building will give developers, care providers and families an opportunity to learn about better ways to equip buildings and homes to make certain aspects of everyday living, that others take for granted, more managable for people with dementia.

As part of Loughborough’s ongoing research into the condition, academics will also study how the features are used with a view to further improving methods of care and support. 

The announcement coincides with Dementia Awareness Week, which began on Sunday (May 14) and runs until this Saturday (May 20).

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.

Professor Jacqui Glass, of Loughborough’s School of Civil and Building Engineering, is the University’s principal investigator on the £300,000 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 to be easily integrated within most current homes and communities to improve people’s lives.”

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

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.”

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 10th in The UK Complete University Guide 2018 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes. 

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.