Designing for Everyone

A suite of environmental assessment tools for health centres (also known as primary care centres/GP premises) has just been launched. These tools have been written by the Association for Dementia Studies for Assura plc who design, build and lease health centres across the UK.

Assura wanted to ensure that their health centres were supportive to people living with dementia, learning disability, autism and neurodiversity. It is thought that this is the first time work has been undertaken to look at the design features that are important to all these groups. The Patients Association and Dimensions, a charity that support people with learning disabilities and autism, provided reports on patients’ views of the health centre environment which for the first time confirmed how important the environment was to the patient experience and the delivery of high quality patient care.

We found through reviews of the literature and best practice that despite the vast majority of patient contacts in the NHS taking place in health centres – at least in normal ‘non-Covid’ circumstances – little work has been undertaken to look at the design of these premises for patients including people living with dementia and other neurodiverse conditions.

Designing for Everyone focuses on the aspects of the built environment that are known to be important for people who are neurodiverse, including those who have a neurodegenerative condition such as dementia. What has been particularly interesting is the finding that, from the limited research available, there appears to be significant commonality in the design features that are important to all those living with dementia, autism and neurodiversity. This work has confirmed the importance of understanding that an individual’s responses to sensory stimuli are personal as everybody experiences neurodegeneration and neurodiversity differently.

With the expected increase in dementia amongst people living with learning disabilities and autism this work has implications across all health and social care settings.

Image showing the front covers of the full environmental assessment tool the summary environmental assessment tool and an easy read version of the primary care building assessment tool

The suite of tools, including easy read versions provided by Dimensions, are available free to download from the Dimensions website.

A poster about this work was recently displayed at the UK Dementia Congress, and a copy can be found below.

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow


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