Dementia-friendly thinking dominates aged care design plans

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The Victorian Government’s commitment to funding the implementation of dementia-friendly principles and design in major aged care refurbishment projects has been commended by national peak body, Dementia Australia.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said it was wonderful to see funding for the development of dementia-friendly gardens, outdoor living areas and facilities upgrades in a number of Melbourne Health aged care homes.

“We know the physical environment can have a significant impact on people living with dementia who might experience their world as confusing, disorienting and, at worst, disabling and even dangerous,” Ms McCabe said.

“There is so much we can do with physical design that promotes independence and supports wellbeing for people living with dementia.

“A wealth of evidence and resources are available that demonstrate how well designed environments can help maintain abilities and provide meaningful engagement by providing prompts, accessibility and reducing risks to better support a person with dementia.

“More than 52 per cent of all aged care residents have a diagnosis of dementia, many are undiagnosed and others will develop dementia while in care, it is essential that aged care homes are designed to maximise enablement and wellbeing for people living with dementia.” 

Some of the design features important to creating a supportive environment are:

•    Incorporating familiar surroundings and elements, especially relevant to different cultures;

•    Allowing for easy access and way-finding indicators or clear signage;

•    Building in elements that encourage activity, engagement and meaningful tasks in a safe and comfortable setting;

•    And, most importantly, wherever possible, during the concept development and building design, consulting with people living with dementia, carers and families for insights on their expertise and lived experience.

“Through Dementia Australia’s consultancy service we work with aged care providers, property developers, architects, urban planners, interior designers, landscape gardeners and local councils, to encourage the adoption of dementia-friendly design and thinking for all aged care homes, public spaces, infrastructure and facilities,” Ms McCabe said.

“We have an app available, The Dementia-Friendly Home, that is easy to use and explores dementia-friendly design and principles appropriate for the industry and for family carers.

“By working with all these groups we know dementia-friendly design and thinking is starting to become integral to the development and design of all public spaces, buildings and facilities – not just those specifically designed for senior Australians.

“This has been demonstrated by the announcement this week. I congratulate the Victorian Government on their leadership and endorsement of dementia-friendly design that will make a difference to the lives of the 115,000 Victorians living with dementia, and their families and carers.”

For more information about dementia-friendly design download the Dementia Australia Help Sheet


Dementia Australia is the national peak body and charity for people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 447,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach almost 1.1 million by 2058. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500  Interpreter service available (The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)                                                                                                       Dementia is a National Health Priority Area                                                                                                                                                                                                

Media contacts: Fiona Wade 0407 019 430 [email protected] Christine Bolt 0400 004 553 [email protected] 

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia Language Guidelines.