Building design for people with dementia: a case study of a UK care home

Lee H. Fisher, David John Edwards, Erika Anneli Pärn, Clinton Ohis Aigbavboa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the impact that building design has upon the quality of life for residents of a care home who have dementia. To present a balanced perspective, carers within the care home also participate in the research. Design/methodology/approach: A case study methodological approach was adopted using one care home, ten residents and five staff as a sample frame. During interviews conducted, participants were asked semi-structured questions on how building design features impact upon the quality of life of residents. Questions posed focussed upon key design principles that emerged from a detailed review of extant literature. Findings: Building design for people with dementia must consider a complex array of features to provide a safe and habitable living space for residents and family members who visit. This living space must also be suitably utilitarian and provide a workable environment for staff. Hence, an appropriate balance between these two competing requirements must be attained, and often a tailor-made solution is required that fits the individual’s level of dementia. Three prominent areas that study participants expressed a desire for were a safe environment; support for wayfinding, orientation and navigation; and access to nature and the outdoors. Originality/value: The work reports upon the rarely discussed issue of building design for people with dementia and could be used by policymakers and construction firms to enhance their knowledge capabilities in this area. The research concludes with direction for future research which should seek to provide more evidence-based research vis-a-vis perception enquiry and extend this seminal work to a larger sample of care homes or people with dementia living at home.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-368
Number of pages20
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Building design
  • Care home
  • Case study
  • Dementia building design
  • Design guidance
  • People with dementia
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction


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