The combination of the building, floor-plan, fittings and fixtures, furniture, lighting, ventilation, open space, building materials, flooring, acoustics, and more, forms the environment. The environment can be considered as a passive carer and it plays a critical role in ensuring people’s quality of life is maximised.

A review of the literature on designing physical environments for people with dementia found evidence supporting a number of design considerations (Hammond et al, 2008).

When considering the environment’s role in the behaviours of concern, the following points are desirable in relieving the behaviours. The environment should:

  • Be small in size
  • Be domestic and home like;
  • Have scope for ordinary activities (unit kitchens, washing lines, garden sheds);
  • Include unobtrusive safety features;
  • Have rooms for different functions with furniture and fittings familiar to the age and generation of the residents;
  • Provide a safe outside space;
  • Have single rooms big enough for a reasonable amount of personal belongings;
  • Provide good signage and multiple cues where possible; eg. sight, smell, sound;
  • Use objects rather than colour for orientation;
  • Enhance visual access, i.e. ensure that the resident can see what they need to see from wherever they spend most of their time
  • Control stimuli, especially noise.


Useful resources

Service Publisher Contact
The use of environmental assessment tools for the evaluation of Australian residential facilities for people with dementia Dementia Collaborative Research Centre
Design for People with Dementia: Audit Tool Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling
Dementia-friendly environments: a guide for residential and respite care Department of Health, Victorian State Government
Gardens That Care DBMAS South Australia 1800 699 799

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