Researching memory care design

Navigating the world begins with understanding how you navigate space.

Farhana Ferdous, lecturer at the University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design & Planning, will study how the physical layout and spatial configuration of long-term care facilities can best support residents’ well-being.

“The design of long-term care facilities, and particularly memory-care units, is a very pressing need for the 21st century,” Ferdous says in a press release. “The architectural design community can change the world and create new values for society.”

Ferdous has won a grant from the Toyota Foundation to build on her previous research of how spatial configuration and design of care facilities could influence cognitively-impaired people. She is looking at how integration, connectivity, layout, configuration and sequence spaces affects residents’ behaviors.

Ferdous is planning to visit 12 facilities nationwide with a graduate assistant during the 2017-18 academic year. They will observe and record residents’ interactions, cross-referencing them with “spatial syntax” analysis and axial maps of the places.

“There is no cure for the disease, but we can change behaviors and attitudes of the residents and caregivers. If we create a very positive environmental design, we can reduce agitation among the residents to create meaningful, positive social interaction.”

Her previous research found that residents prefer homelike environments: soft surfaces like carpeting over tile or linoleum floors as well as soft lighting and round tables at dining rooms to better see others’ faces. 

Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Design