A new “dementia-friendly” home – developed by leading building science research centre BRE in partnership with HLP Architects and experts from Loughborough University – was officially opened on 4 July by Lord Richard Best, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People.

The show home – at the BRE Innovation Park, Watford – demonstrates concepts and technologies which will allow people with dementia to live independently for longer.

Open to the public, care-providers, local authorities, architects and anyone with an interest in dementia care, the house will allow visitors to gather ideas and solutions from the technology and design on show.

The array of features and design concepts – all based on proven academic research – include simple open-plan living spaces and adapted living features such as non-scalding faucets, simple switches, and rounded-edged furniture to minimise injury.

There are also more hi-tech innovations on trial including ‘talking cushions’ which promote activity after long periods of rest; sensory smart chairs; intelligent, self-regulating climate control and ventilation; and safety sensors in high risk areas such as the kitchen.

Each of the concepts and new technologies featured in the house will provide valuable data, allowing researchers to refine and improve their dementia friendly innovations.

Dementia care currently costs UK families around £18 billion a year and affects about 850,000 people.

In contrast to other conditions such as heart disease and cancer for which the NHS provides free care at the point of use, two-thirds of the cost of dementia is paid by those living with the condition and their families.

BRE spokesperson, Dr David Kelly, said the average annual cost of dementia care in the UK is between £30,000 and £40,000.

He added: “Creating environments which allow people to live independently at home for longer are just good sense – and could result in significant savings. That money could instead be channelled into research that alleviates the condition and reduces the emotional stress to the individual.”


© Image: Mark Hemingway

Published: 13 July 2018