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Fri May 07 2021

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BRE to build ‘dementia-friendly’ demonstration home

18 May 17 The Building Research Establishment (BRE) is planning of a new showcase home specially designed for people with dementia.

The BRE Innovation Park in Watford
The BRE Innovation Park in Watford

Construction of the ‘dementia-friendly’ home will begin on the BRE Innovation Park in Watford this autumn. The aim of the project is to learn how better to support those living with the condition.

The tailored features of the converted terraced house have been designed by researchers from Loughborough University and BRE.

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025 and to two million by 2051, according to the Alzheimer's Society.

BRE’s 100 m2 Victorian house will be adapted to cater for different types, and stages, of the debilitating illness, and is aimed at allowing sufferers to live independently by addressing their day-to-day needs.

Once complete, it will act as a show home and give developers, care providers and families an opportunity to learn about better ways to equip a home to help people with dementia.

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Loughborough University academics will also study how the features are used with a view to further improving ways to support homeowners with dementia.

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.

Professor Jacqui Glass, of Loughborough’s School of Civil & 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 principals’ 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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