Improved Process for Dementia Care


Improved process for dementia care design with the new Iridis apps...

A story from the Planning and Building Control today website...

Working with the University of Stirling, Space Architects has helped to create the first-of-its-kind Iridis apps to improve the design of homes for people living with dementia. Director Stephen Brooks explains their development

Earlier this year, Space Group was approached by the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) to digitise its audit process of homes for those living with dementia. At Space, our forward-thinking, technology-hungry teams are at the forefront of digital construction methodology and this was the perfect project for us to support.

We are passionate that our projects result in spaces that work for the occupants, whether that means luxurious surroundings or specially adapted spaces for those living with the confusing and debilitating effects of dementia. Having already delivered on a large number of care homes throughout the UK, our level of understanding on the accommodation needs of the third and fourth age meant that we could apply these design principles to the audit process.

The audit tool already existed in a paper-based format, which was carried out by research professionals with an associated cost. However, there was a need to simplify this process so that not only those designing/refurbishing accommodation spaces could carry out an audit themselves, but individuals could also take full advantage of the service for free.

Therefore, there was a requirement to create an easy-to-use platform in an accessible format. The idea of the Iridis app was born.

The Iridis apps

The university’s decision to make available, to everyone, a service that typically carried a cost meant that an essential service to improve the lives of people with dementia would soon be far more accessible.

Iridis apps allow users to use their smartphones and tablets to assess environments, such as homes or hospitals, to ensure they comply with dementia design principles, which in turn helps to reduce confusion and risk.

The technology asks users – including people with dementia and their family members, as well as designers, architects and healthcare professionals – a series of questions about their surroundings and requests photographs of the environment. It then uses the data to highlight potential problems – such as issues with furniture, lighting, colour contrast and noise – before recommending changes that could enhance the environment.

Recommended improvements could be as simple as improving lighting to more complex enhancements, such as reconfiguring bathrooms. Typically, the assessment of a two-bedroom home would only take around 20 minutes to complete.

The apps are designed to allow people with dementia to live independently for longer and, in turn, could help ease pressure on hospitals. They will highlight further benefits to the health and care sectors, with hospital and care home environments being vital in ensuring patients receive the best possible outcomes.

A suite of apps for different uses are being developed and in September, Space Group and the DSDC launched the first two in the series: the homeowners app and a professional services app.

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