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Image Credit: Koto Design Net-Zero Prefabricated House 

Guidance on Design for Dementia for Buildings and Homes

Designing buildings and interiors to enable those living with dementia to function more independently is not a common discussion in Canada. It is in other countries. While there is some publicly accessible design advice, most organizations keep their blueprints, approach and design guidelines proprietary. Best practises based on evidence exist but only a few countries stand out with their effort, innovation and application. When it comes to designing accommodation to enable those with dementia to function better with a better quality of life: Canada is behind

Although we don’t like to think about it, the odds are that dementia will be a reality of our aging journey. As age friendly communities and homes evolve, keeping up with the age (and dementia) friendly landscape can be overwhelming. Plus knowing what information you can trust is critical. That is where our global research comes in.

Living With Dimentia Floorplan


“Design is about more than shaping the physical and built environment to counter the impairments which come with dementia.  It also represents significant changes to support regulations, standards, policies, practices and behaviours of professional staff and changing the way people with dementia are engaged within the environments in which they live”.  As we age our bodies and minds change making it more difficult for us to recognize, interpret and function as we once did within the physical environment. Putting aside chronic disease, sensory deficiencies, loss of mobility or cognitive impairments can impact our movement and our behaviour within the built environment. Confusion and a loss of independence can impact patience and the frustration can (in some cases) turn violent which impacts not only the resident, but their partner (or fellow residents) and caregivers.

Image Credit: BRE UK Innovation Park Dementia Demonstration House

Understanding these age-related changes and how the design of the built environment may trigger confusion, wandering, frustration, depression and aggression or it can support independence, personal identity and contribute to the quality of life. Good design must look at the way people with dementia interpret and engage with their environment as well as considering the formal and informal caregivers who support these people.

Evidence shows what delivers dementia-friendly design:

  • Specialized and multi-disciplinary (architects, interior designers, physiotherapists, landscape architects and other experts) knowledge and advice is key at all stages in new design, redesign or development

  • Addressing physical issues such lighting, colour contrast, signage, textures and sensory stimulation is not enough on its own

  • Tackling service and physical change together delivers better results

  • Technology and adaptations – many of them inexpensive – can have a positive impact


Our objective is to enable today’s and tomorrow’s built environment professionals, community planners, homeowners and other stakeholders to make informed decisions and take action regarding the planning/design and building dementia/age friendly buildings. 

We leverage international best practices for dementia enabled design to support the planning/pre-design, post-design/occupancy; we provide support for professionals, government, organizations, developers, and homeowners.  Our approach combines a deep understanding of dementia, drawn from evidence across the world providing a profound change in the lives of people living with dementia.


Advisory Consulting Review:

  • Pragmatic evidence-based information and assessments which enables effective decision making for designing for dementia.

  • Practical guidance for delivering dementia friendly buildings with our customized assessment checklists, design criteria and scoring system.

  •  Advice to prioritize measures and changes as the basis for dialogue with the stakeholders (client and/or carer(s) to progress adaptations to a home or address building objectives.

  • Suggest solutions regarding smart technologies which support dementia enablement.

 One-Day Project Review

  • The review usually involves our team working through how the key design issues that affect people with dementia can best be addressed with the project team (of up to 10).

  • Provide presentations on key areas of the design and smart technology

  • We provide a design charrette that focuses on key areas of design through an interactive round table discussion on specific areas of concern / address issues, any bottlenecks, key interests and feedback on the plan/ additional site visits.

  • Follow up review of the site and design plans for further refinement

Homeowner Review

Meaningful engagement are all important aspects to ensure we understand your needs. Getting to know you is the first and most important part of what we do. A well-designed enabling environment can support a person living with dementia to have enhanced opportunities within that environment. This expands a person’s connections with the world around them, in a physical, mental, social-emotional, and spiritual way. Providing the opportunity to engage in a range of activities that meet a variety of abilities and needs is essential to respect the individuality and identity of each person accessing the space. 


Design4Dementia at home is a relationship-based approach to allow our team to review your current situation and conduct an assessment to determine next steps. This means our team will fully understand individual needs to determine the best option for modifying or designing your space by providing simple useful resources and additional care strategies. We provide you with a wide range of practical, inexpensive, and useful ideas, examples, and recommendations as well as resources to make necessary changes and evaluate the outcomes. Using the latest research, we use a set of evidence-based practice principles which are the foundation for our work and approach to our consultation.

  • Specialist knowledge and advice to support all aspects and stages of the design of your home or space to include redesign or development.

  • Provide and deliver a set of best practice principles for review and consideration to your home or space

  • Deliver an assessment checklist to help you understand the urgent changes, the purpose of the checklist is to focus on inspiring and improving your space and providing additional requirements

  • Review practical tips, guides, and resources to help make the places where you live more dementia enabling

  • Help align the right team to deliver the recommendations for your design requirements and or modifications to your home. We onboard architects, interior designers, physiotherapists, landscape, builders as well as other experts when required.

  • Educate your family or care givers on the changes to your home to ensure long term success

Whether you are adapting your private home, designing a retirement residence or building a long term care establishment from the ground up, our goal is to help you create better, safer dementia friendly buildings which are more suitable, more available and sustainable (economical/affordable).

Our work draws upon experts credible in the industry and strong global best practices from Europe and Australia to support those living with dementia. Our team can help you if you are:


  • Interested in adapting a home or residence to be more dementia friendly

  • Planning on designing a home where a homeowner can be more independent and age in place longer

  • Searching for non-therapeutic ways to reduce anxiety and stress for persons living with dementia

  • In need of understanding the importance of the specifics of design considerations when discussing and making trade-off

  • Looking for input for a pilot project dealing with aging and enabling for dementia for the built environment

  • We can develop Design Guidelines to design smart will enable the Canadian industry to access a standardized design and building requirements.

  •  Writing a funding application

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