Care, a building that provides extra care

From our expertise in designing for people with dementia we quickly saw a lot of overlapping with the wider care assignment. After all, within the care assignment there is a need for an environment that is readable, supporting and provides extra care. Whereby we believed that many research results in terms of light, observation and exercise could also be applicable in this assignment. Therefore, we further developed this knowledge to apply this in this wider assignment.

Think of living/care environment of somatic patients, the living environment within the disability care but definitely also within hospitals, there is a big assignment there.

Within all this building assignment to obviously concerns providing the right care. But within this our interest also goes to how the building can be a part of this care. How can a building reassure patients, reduce the stress, support efficient working and even cure patients (quicker)? Where till recently the building was mainly a ‘jacket’ to provide care in, we want to show that a building can be more than that. That a building can be part of the care.

Research after research

From the research into the residential care environment for people with dementia we became interested into what these results could mean for the wider care environment. During the research and our assignment we saw large similarities with other care assignments. Not least because a large number of users of care is 65 or older.

In total we currently have about 3 million people that are 65 or older. A large part thereof used various care facilities. The largest facility with this is the hospital. Over 50% (1.8 million) of this group receives care from a hospital.

Aging in the care sector.

We already noticed that the number of older people using case is the largest and this will only increase in the coming years. So we wonder what this can mean for the care environment.

In hospitals we see, especially with this aging target group, for example difficulties with the direction signs, walking distances, reflections, glass walls (unable to correctly distinguish inside, outside or areas) and lighting levels. While relatively little attention is given to this with new buildings or renovations.

What can we do with our previous results about the observation of older people and our experience and insight in hospitals, for example? This is what we research and these are questions that we put first in the design of care environments. Whereby we are of course aware of the fact that we not just design for older people; everyone uses care. However, we notice that an environment that is correctly readable and supporting for older people is actually pleasant for everyone.

‘Healing environment’

In environments where we talk of (chance of) recovery a lot of research was conducted in the past into what the effect of the environment can be on the healing and the recovery. This is very relevant in hospitals, care hotels and revalidation centres. After all the focus here is on the recovery of patients.

Actually we see the themes that emerge from the research but also within our projects also strongly apply here; light, exercise and observation. Within a ‘healing environment’ the following parts of nature, (day)light and fresh are also frequently used.

Our vision on Evidence based design

Actually all our designs are ‘evidence’ based; after all we base them on the researches that we have performed and the available knowledge.

But we are still critical in this. Much of the knowledge and researched that are available remain theoretical. Little research was done into the effect of a design operation in practice. Whereby these researches and associated knowledge are often solitary. This means that a single aspect or part is tested. In practice the experience of space depends on the sum of parts.

Light levels, for example, also effect the perception of colour. And outside view provides much daylight, but gives a complete other dimension in a darker room than in a light room (in terms of colour use). Areas with large glass surfaces and outside view effect to temperature experience inside; people are actually colder or warmer.

Of course this does not mean that we will not use research, on the contrary. But we do strongly monitor the general context and the effect of results on other aspects.

Plus, we also want to test our design ourselves. What is the actual effect of what we design on the user? We do this in cooperation with environmental psychologists and the care (and family and caregiver).

Een keertje verder praten over het thema zorg?

Ook benieuwd wat we voor u kunnen betekenen?

Anja Dirks


+31(0)30 - 782 05 50
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