Design for Independence was approached by an international architect asking for support with the design of block of flats.  Our advice was vital as the flats were intended for clients with Alzheimer’s – a condition that means sufferers find life in ‘normal’ homes extremely challenging.

Our recommendations included:

The layout of the flats

  • We looked at the position and size of the windows so that the flats would ‘bring the outside in’.
  • We examined where physical barriers could be reduced in order to encourage the residents to move freely from one area to another.
  • We advised where to reposition the toilets in order to increase their visibility – this was in relation to where the residents were likely to spend most of their time.
  • We changed the layout of the bathroom so that the carers were able to work unhindered.
  • We ensured the doorways were wide enough for wheelchair access and that there were adequate turning circles in all the rooms and corridors.

The interior design of the flats

  • We advised on the right use of colours in general, and the use of colour contrast in particular, to improve visual recognition and spatial orientation.
  • We analysed the position and type of light sources both in the living areas and the kitchen.
  • We recommended appliances which were intuitive (to the older generation) and visible, in order to increase independence.
  • We recommended suitable furniture, sanitary and brass ware in the living areas, kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom, taking into account the likely deterioration in physical abilities related to old age.
  • We ensured the working environment was safe for the carers.

Assistive technology

  • We advised the architect to think about installing a system of sensors in the flats which would be controlled and monitored from a phone/computer at a remote location; this would increase safety and provide reassurance for family members and carers.
  • We recommended the architect choose a system that could easily record and deliver data – as this data would be very helpful when considering care packages and support at night.