Toward an Integrated Context-Based Design Approach for Dementia Residential Care Homes: A Review of Key Operational Design Problems

Ghasson Shabha, David J. Edwards, Kristi Gaines, Paul Laycok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives, Purpose, or Aim: This article seeks to develop a context-based management system focusing on assessing key operational and design problems and affecting wayfinding in dementia residential care homes. Background: Dementia is multifaceted neurocognitive impairments largely attributed to cognitive deterioration manifested in memory loss and visuospatial deficit which have wider practical implications to both environmental safety and wayfinding and navigation of dementia user. Two key questions were addressed in this context: (1) How can cognitively facilitating assistive technology (AT) be made more user-focused to mitigate the impacts of cognitive impairments on environmental safety and wayfinding? (2) How can design intervention and changes in design topology, colors and texture, and internal finishing aid wayfinding, navigation, and orientation in dementia residential care homes? Method: A systematic literature review and analysis was undertaken to assess the efficacy of key cognitively-related AT to support activities of daily living and environmental safety of dementia sufferers in a care home and aid wayfinding, navigation, and orientation. Results: Several key design variables to facilitate wayfinding and spatial orientation were identified which include design topology, floor finishing, signposting, and use of color and texture strengthened by meaning, emotional connection to places and cognitively focused intervention via memory cueing and objects-centered recognition. Conclusions: Key operational and design guidelines were proposed to assist built environment, care home developers, clinicians and healthcare professionals, and care services providers. There is a need to move toward a dementia-centered design to address the challenges facing people living with dementia in care homes. This should be based on the interrelated behavioral, cognitive, and communication factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-342
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • assistive technology
  • cognitive impairment
  • dementia
  • navigation
  • spatial design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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