How kitchen designers can help the battle with Dementia

How kitchen designers can help the battle with DementiaHow kitchen designers can help the battle with Dementia

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dubheasa Gallagher from the Alzheimer’s Society about the importance of kitchen design for those living with dementia. As a company who manufacture kitchen doors, we were keen to see what we can be doing to help with the design of kitchens.

Tell us about your role with Alzheimer’s Society.

Alzheimer’s Society launched an exciting programme in April 2013 known as Dementia Friendly Communities. The 4 year programme, funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and Alzheimer’s Society, will challenge misunderstandings and stigma surrounding dementia and seek to improve the ability of people living with dementia to remain independent for as long as possible.

As part of the programme, we are offering to deliver a free awareness workshop to businesses/ organisations and the general public to help increase people’s knowledge of dementia and increase their confidence and skills to enable them to relate, communicate and support people living with dementia. We also provide some guidance and tips on how to create a more dementia friendly environment, in terms of design.

With greater awareness the wider community can support people with dementia to carry out daily tasks independently; within their own homes, local community and beyond.

What are the things to look out for when designing a kitchen for someone who is living with dementia?

Dementia is caused by physical diseases of the brain. It is a progressive disease, which affects not only the memory, but the ability to do day to day tasks and can cause sight and visual difficulties. So something like making a cup of tea can prove to be a difficult task.

Due to memory loss the person’s own home may become increasingly difficult to navigate their way around, so clear signage is important- a sign with a visual and text and placed at eye level, i.e. Kitchen with a picture of a plate, knife and fork.

It is even more helpful if the cupboards are glass fronted so the person can see what is in that cupboard rather than having to open every door to see where the cups are.

People with dementia tend to regress back in their memory so may be able to use a kitchen which is traditional in style in comparison to a modern style kitchen, i.e. handles on doors and drawers that are clear, and traditional taps as opposed to sensor.

Highly reflective surfaces can cause difficulties, i.e. floors or worktops, as it may be perceived that it is slippery or wet, or can be extremely confusing if they see their own reflection as they may think it is someone or something else.

Lighting is also important. It needs to be bright and ensure that there are no pools of shadows.

Why are these pointers so important?  

People living with dementia and their carers tell us that as cognitive ability declines it becomes harder to continue to undertake day-to-day activities within their local communities and even in their own homes. We need to create awareness that small changes can make a big difference.

What can kitchen manufacturers to do help?

Attend a DFC workshop to increase their knowledge, adhere to the Dementia Friendly Design Audit tool, especially if they are designing kitchens for businesses, organisations, and health and social care settings, i.e. nursing and residential care homes.

What can kitchen retailers to do help?

Also to attend a DFC workshop, so they are aware of the needs of people living with dementia. They may be able to provide solutions to families who are struggling with their current design.

To find out more about Dementia Friendly Communities or how you can attend a workshop, please contact Dubheasa on 07885 899010 or email dubheasa.gallagher@alzheimers.org.uk

* We hope you enjoyed reading our blog post on Dementia friendly design and thank you to Dubheasa Gallagher for giving us her time.

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