At Group Homes Australia, we believe that the environment is a contributing therapeutic factor for someone living with dementia. If the environment is too big, it can be overstimulating and disabling, causing the person living with dementia to feel vulnerable. Whereas a small-scale environment has many benefits. Alzheimer’s Disease International delivered the World Alzheimer’s Report this year, called “Design, Dignity, Dementia”. In this report, it shares 10 best practice principles that help a person living with dementia to live well. Since 2012, GHA has been living and breathing these principles in our homes.
One of the principles highlighted in the 2020 World Alzheimer’s Report for design is allowing people to see and be seen. The report explains, “The provision of an easily understood environment will help to minimize confusion. It is particularly important for people living with dementia to be able to recognize where they are, where they have come from and where they can go”(World Alzheimer Report 2020).
At GHA, making sure that a residents private space, like their bedroom, is personalized with furnishings and belongings, will give them a visual cue to say to them that this is their space, and give them a sense of belonging. This can also be extended to other spaces in the home, like bringing a residents piano from home, or family photos and albums displayed around the house. As you walk through a GHA home, there are constant reminders for each resident that this is their home. It’s important to acknowledge that a home environment can generate positive feelings of comfort, recognition, belonging and wayfinding.
A kitchen space isn’t just about being a functional space where food is prepared but rather can be used as a space where residents can be seen, to participate, and reminisce about recipes that they used to cook in their own home. This may generate happy memories of family gatherings, dinner parties and social get togethers. The experience of using the environment in this way allows for the environment to support the resident to be seen.
If we can assist with answering any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Resident Relations Manager for support on 1300 015 406 or email Group Homes Australia Home Support Office. The Group Homes Australia (GHA) care model is firmly built on the belief that people living with dementia thrive in a home environment. GHA homes are ordinary homes, on ordinary suburban streets, where 6 to 10 residents live together. Residents have 24-hour care, provided by a team of staff that we call ‘Homemakers’.