The world’s first design school for people with dementia, which will see the attendees learn vital design skills from experts in dementia design, is taking place in Birmingham’s Crowne Plaza Hotel today.
Hosted by the Dementia Centre, HammondCare, the design school will see people with dementia and a supporter work together with design experts, to learn the skills needed to become more involved in the process of designing dementia-inclusive environments.
The design school will be co-hosted by Associate Professor Colm Cunningham, Director of the Dementia Centre, and Agnes Houston MBE, who has been living with dementia since 2006 and has campaigned tirelessly to improve the lives of people with the condition.
The event will be the first in a series of design schools, which it is hoped will result in a rich bank of knowledge about dementia-inclusive design that then can be used by architects, planners, developers and service providers to create better buildings and spaces for people living with dementia.
There are currently more than 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, a figure that is expected to rise to two million by 2050. Dementia costs the UK economy £26.3bn per year — more than cancer and heart disease combined.
Dementia-friendly design can significantly improve the quality of life for people living with the condition, improving decision making, reducing accidents, lessening anxiety and helping them live more independent lives.
The Dementia Centre is a leading international research, education and consulting service provided by HammondCare, operating in many parts of the world. It is recognised as a world leader in dementia support, care and design. The Dementia Centre’s UK team offers a range of dementia consultancy services, with specialism in dementia design.
Director of the Dementia Centre, HammondCare, Associate Professor Colm Cunningham said: “The idea for a design school for people living with dementia came from a discussion I had with Agnes Houston, MBE, who has been living with dementia since 2006 and has campaigned tirelessly to improve the lives of people with the condition. We felt there was a real need to increase the involvement of people with dementia in design. People living with dementia have in many cases learned to live with environmental barriers and have developed personal solutions to these challenges that people who do not have dementia could learn from.
“Our design school will give people living with dementia the unique opportunity to work together with design experts and contribute their ideas and knowledge to the creation of dementia-friendly environments. This school will place the person living with dementia at the centre of design, whether that be a home, a hospital, a shopping centre, a public space or a product.”
Agnes Houston MBE (pictured bove), who is a Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and a member of the Scottish Dementia Working Group, added: “A design school for people with dementia has the potential to change lives. Using good design can empower people with dementia to remain a part of community life. It can build confidence and helps to keep us safe.”