Dementia: Living and creating a familiar place

Jul 26, 2020

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 creating a familiar place. The report explains, “A person living with dementia is more able to use and enjoy places and objects that are familiar to them”(World Alzheimer Report 2020).

Home means different things to different people, for some it might be smells of home, for others it might be a place from their childhood. Familiarity can be a place that looks familiar, has sounds that are familiar or familiar smells. When a person living with dementia walks into a room, the first cue is a visual one. At GHA, we make sure to have familiar objects throughout the home that prompt the person living with dementia and reassure them that they are in a familiar place. We do this for two reasons; it’s familiar as it looks like a home and their personal items are there so that it looks like THEIR home. Every room in a GHA home is designed so that it has an internal familiarity, and the person living with dementia can interact easily and is encouraged to interact in that space.

For example, when a person living with dementia walks into the kitchen, its important that they can make themselves a cup of tea, and they can navigate their way around the kitchen, as opposed to in a big residential aged care environment, where residents are served their tea and the kitchens are large and industrial. Creating a familiar place for someone living with dementia becomes part of the therapy, where they feel a sense of belonging, and continue to live beyond a of diagnosis, rather than suffer with a diagnosis of dementia.

If we can assist with answering any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Engagement Manager for support on  or email Group Homes Australia Home Support Office.   

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For Healthcare professionals, check out “Do it Differently” the webinar series hosted by Tamar Krebs, Founder, Group Homes Australia.


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