Dementia wing nominated

Michael TraillNarrogin Observer
Narrogin
Camera IconNarrogin Credit: Robert Frith/Acorn Photo

Narrogin Cottage Homes’ Maxwell Dementia Wing has been nominated in the commercial division for the 2019 WA Architecture Awards, hosted by the Australian Institute of Architects.

The essence of the Narrogin Cottage Homes project was to create a therapeutic environment that would nurture, stimulate and liberate people living with dementia, according to designer, SPH architecture + interiors’ Cherie Kaptein.

The communal meeting area of the wing.
Camera IconThe communal meeting area of the wing. Credit: Robert Frith/Acorn Photo

“There’s a lack of services in the country areas, so this facility really needs to keep people in their local area, where their family could come and visit them,” she said.

“(Narrogin Cottage Homes’ chief executive) Julie Christensen had her program of what she wanted, which was a safe and secure environment, but not so that people felt trapped.”

Consulting with dementia specialist organisations, SPH architecture + interiors was able to draw on the scientific knowledge and first-hand experience of health professionals.

A rural and farm theme is spread across the wing.
Camera IconA rural and farm theme is spread across the wing. Credit: Robert Frith/Acorn Photo

“An area the unit looked into was the fact that there’s lots of problems with dementia, such as your sight goes, there’s confusion and difficulty orientating yourself in space and time,” Ms Kaptein said.

“One of the crucial factors was that a lot of people with dementia, with their poor vision, they see any change in colour and carpet, stuff with shadows, as holes in the floor or gaps, they think they’re going to fall down into a hole.

“So it was very important to try to not get shadows on the carpets, hence we have a lot of light coming into the south aspect of the building and keeping the surfaces and carpet very uniform, keeping changes to the floor surfaces very minimal.”

Narrogin
Camera IconNarrogin Credit: Robert Frith/Acorn Photo

Doors staff do not want patients to use, such as exit doors, are kept neutral to align with the walls to conceal them, while doors residents do use are highlighted.

“At each of the (residents’) rooms, there’s a little memory box,” Ms Kaptein said.

An example of a “memory box” that encourages residents to enter their own room.
Camera IconAn example of a “memory box” that encourages residents to enter their own room. Credit: Robert Frith/Acorn Photo

“You’d put objects that are familiar to you in that room, so you’d be more inclined to go into that roomrather than a name on the door.”

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