When designing care home environments, accessibility must be a priority.
This is particularly important to support residents with dementia.
“Someone’s mobility often reduces as dementia progresses,” said Lauren Di Pietro, architect at DWA Architects. “There is evidence that many people in the middle and late stages of dementia may require wheelchairs. Retro-fitting ramps and removing mini-steps in a home may therefore be necessary.”
She added that accessibility is sometimes confused with usability.
“Both overlap and are vital parts of user experience, but there are also key distinctions between them. Usability is concerned with whether designs are effective, efficient, and satisfying to use. Theoretically, this means that usability includes accessibility, since a product that is inaccessible is also unusable to someone with a disability.
“Practically, however, usability tends not to specifically focus on the user experience of people with disabilities.”
Accessibility covers many different areas in a care home.
For instance, video captions help people with hearing difficulties or someone watching the video on mute.
“Legible, high-contrast text that helps people with vision difficulties also helps people with perfect eyesight who are using a device outdoors in bright sunlight for example,” said Di Pietro. “Many residents will face challenges due to demanding contexts. When you design for all ability levels, you can create products and services anyone can use and enjoy – or at least find helpful or calming.”
DWA Architects recommends regular access audits to ensure a home is as inclusive as possible for residents. Importantly, well-designed solutions can also ensure compliance with all aspects of the Equality Act 2010.
More advice from DWA Architects can be found here.