The Landscape of Memories
by Amber Schutz
More than 50% of residents in Australian Aged Care Facilities have dementia. Edmiston Jones’ focus on Human Centred Design has highlighted how critical it is to ensure the spaces we design cater for all users particularly those with specific needs and abilities. Some of our team recently attended an education session on ‘Designing for Dementia’ presented by Professor Fleming of Dementia Training Australia at IRT’s office in Wollongong. Ten key design principles were presented to the group that outlined how spaces designed for these people should be created to ensure the most positive health and psychological outcomes are achieved. Dementia Courtyard Layout - Edmiston Jones One of our recent projects with IRT utilised these principles for the Landscape Design within courtyards and gardens. The outdoor spaces responded to IRT’s vision for a way of life for the residents. Interactive and familiar objects were located along loop paths to support movement and engagement and evoke feelings of nostalgia, by triggering early, still accessible memory. We also created a variety of differing spaces to allow residents to choose their level of interaction with others and also meet their desire for resting in sun or shade. Landscape Section Sketch - Edmiston Jones Enclosure and safety are critical for people with Dementia, although some gardens are fenced, there are earth berms and swales as well as dense planting to make this feature unobtrusive to residents and visitors. Garden edging and surfaces are designed and specified to minimise trips and falls and to allow safe navigation of the space through visual triggers. Key sight lines were preserved from staff nurse stations to external spaces allowing for casual surveillance, which reassures both staff and residents. Our aim is always to craft spaces to cater for people’s needs, both physical and psychological and to ensure we are designing for people first.