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Design for dementia: adapting the built environment

design for dementia‘Design for Dementia’ is a Design Guide which aims to assist designers and others working in the built environment to tackle the challenge of dementia in society. Dementia is a growing issue associated with the demographic of an ageing population.

The premise of ‘Design for Dementia’ is that 70-80% of people living with dementia continue to live in their own homes rather than in any specialised form of housing.  They continue living in the same neighbourhoods and use the same local facilities and centres.

Familiarity with surroundings is recognised as a key to reducing the symptoms and loss of function of dementia. By implication, if people can remain living in their own homes, in their own neighbourhoods, then the disorientation, confusion and anxiety of a move to a new environment is reduced.

While older properties can be improved and adapted to suit the requirements of those living with dementia, and businesses can address some of the needs of their customers, the aim must be to improve responsiveness in design of the built environment in the medium and long-term. While this may sound like a daunting task, the benefits in financial terms to health and social support services, and in human terms to the families, friends and neighbours who are tackling the challenge of dementia, are huge. Of course, most importantly of all, is assisting people to ‘live well with dementia’ as far as possible.

The opportunity for this Design Guide arises out of the inspirational work of Innovate Dementia Europe and is produced by a collaboration between Bill Halsall of Halsall Lloyd Partnership, Architects and Designers, and Dr. Rob MacDonald of Liverpool John Moores University.

The research process for the guide included a series of ‘Living Lab’ formats and participatory techniques, and the authors are grateful for the involvement of SURF (Service Users Reference Forum), Liverpool Dementia Action Alliance, Mersey Care NHS and LJMU.


Chris & Sally’s House is a recently completed demonstration project at the Building Research Establishment Innovation Park in Watford, which shows how a terraced property can be converted to assist residents to live independently as possible with dementia.

The design has been developed by a collaboration between the BRE, Loughborough University and the Halsall Lloyd Partnership acting as Architects and Interior Designers.

The design objective is to enable people living with dementia to ‘age in place’ in the comfort of their own home, sustaining their capacity for longer and maintaining their quality of life as members of the community.

The majority of people living with dementia in the UK continue to live in their own homes and use the same neighbourhood facilities as everyone else and it is proposed that close attention to design of the built environment will reduce expanding demands on the social and health care systems as well as easing the burden on family, friends and carers.


BA (Hons) B.Arch (Hons) L,pool  Architect Dip LA (Dist) B’ham CMLI

Bill Halsall is practicing architect, landscape architect and partner at Halsall Lloyd Partnership.  Over the past few years he has carried out research into dementia and in 2015 co-authored Design for Dementia – A Guide with Dr Robert MacDonald of Liverpool John Moore’s University.  His approach is to help people living with dementia to sustain their capacity for longer through the design of the domestic environment.  The design principles apply to new build, refurbishment, neighbourhoods and the public realm.

He is the Architect for Chris & Sally’s House – an ongoing research project and demonstration project in conjunction with the Building Research Establishment and Loughborough University.

Bill’s research builds on a lifetime involvement with communities and working collaboratively to generate sustainable neighbourhoods.


The Halsall Lloyd Partnership is an interdisciplinary design practice with a wide range of skills in all aspects of the built environment. HLP create design solutions with care and understanding within a culture of innovation in both product and process.

HLP’s approach is pro-active, working with clients and communities to develop ideas and realise visions; and environmentally driven to achieve successful sustainable projects.

HLP works as a studio-based team offering a responsive, high quality integrated design service including; Architecture, Masterplanning, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture and Interior Design.

In the related fields of Housing, Health and Education, HLP have pioneered new approaches through engagement and co-design with local communities to produce designs which are socially responsive and environmentally sustainable.

HLP promote innovation through research as part of its business model.  The practice is currently focusing on the issues presented by an ageing society, in particular ‘Design for Dementia’ as a key theme.

Join us at the Environment and Design for Dementia conference to learn more about how you can help to support the needs of those with the condition through clever environmental planning.

Find out more here.

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