Pioneering dementia design principles to make Kirklees a more inclusive place to be

We’re launching a Dementia Friendly Design Tool in a unique partnership project with the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre.

Stigma in society

Residents living with dementia are often faced with inequalities and stigma that other people don’t often see.

The introduction of the dementia design guidance will make it easier for people living with dementia to live and work in Kirklees, and make sure access to buildings and services is more inclusive.

Difficulties with perception

People living with dementia perceive things differently.

For example, a black mat placed in the doorway of a shop may be perceived as a hole in the ground. This can make some people living with dementia fearful of crossing the threshold.

The toolkit provides practical solutions and guidance on how the design, layout and furnishing of buildings and environments can make it easier for people living with dementia to use places and spaces throughout Kirklees.

Councillor Musarrat Khan, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care said:

“I’m incredibly proud that we are trailblazers in this important mission to make Kirklees a more dementia-friendly and inclusive place to live and work.

By being the first local authority to work with the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre in this way, we are setting the trend in how to make vulnerable residents feel safe and more able to live independently in their own homes.”

Guidance in practice 

Part of this unique guidance has already been used to develop the first two dementia-friendly libraries in Kirklees (one through refurbishment and one new build). Improvements have also been made to signage, where we have used contrasting colours to aid wayfinding and orientation which helps to promote independence and create a modern, calming environment.

This guidance has also been used as part of the refurbishment of an office building to create a fully inclusive environment.

Lesley Palmer, Acting Director of University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DCSC) said:

“DSDC are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Kirklees Council on this exciting project and we applaud the council on their ambitious commitment to improving lives for people with dementia.

Through the project, DSDC has created a dementia design toolkit for different building typologies to encourage companies and organisations from all backgrounds to make changes. Whether the changes are small or large, that can support someone living with dementia to live independently in the community.  This pilot project will also help inform DSDC’s new three-tiered audit tool, which will be available in 2022. DSDC looks forward to continuing working with Kirklees Council in the future.”

Going forward

The new toolkit will also play a central part in the redevelopment of existing dementia day care facilities in North Kirklees.

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The Kirklees Dementia Design Toolkit can be found at www.kirklees.gov.uk/dementia