Improving the emotional well-being of people living with dementia

Jakob, Anke (2012) Improving the emotional well-being of people living with dementia. In: 8th International Conference on Design & Emotion : D&E 2012; 11-14 Sep 2012, London, U.K..


The research project presented in this short paper/poster evolved from broader consideration in respect to the rising number of people affected by dementia, the rapid growth of an ageing population, and the over-prescribed use of antipsychotic medication in dementia treatment. Alternative treatment methods and cost-effective interventions optimising dementia care are urgently needed. Against this background the research examines strategies of providing specific sensory experiences for people living with dementia – focusing on Multi Sensory Environments (MSEs), their design, and their current and future demanding role within homes caring for residents living with this condition. The aesthetic and functional qualities of MSE facilities (such as material/colour/imagery applied, spatial set up, usability, accessibility) currently provided in care homes for people with dementia, and their success and failure, are examined and evaluated. MSEs are now widely used in dementia care as both a resource for meaningful leisure activity and a therapeutic intervention. But evidence suggests that they often fail to succeed because of inadequate design and arrangements not addressing the needs of people with dementia or older people in general. The project investigates to what extent the above criticisms can be substantiated via a study involving 15 care homes in Greater London that have some type of MSE facility. The study aims to establish whether improved overall design of the MSE could add value to the experience maximising the benefit for the users and their carers, subsequently informing the development of design ideas and recommendations for a MSE template tailored towards people with dementia and their physical and emotional needs.

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