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Design for Memory Care: New Trends

How architects and designers create spaces with the needs of Alzheimer's patients in mind

Find a list of outstanding memory care homes

Ron Possamai and Andrea van der King are two leaders in responding to the needs of Canadians who require memory care in a retirement home setting. Possamai is the Principal Architect with Global Architect Inc., and van der King is Principal Designer at van der King Design Group Inc. At this year's Together We Care conference in Toronto, they presented a look at cutting edge architecture and design in memory care facilities they're currently working on.

Several residences across the province are being built "from the ground up" with the needs of dementia patients in mind. Building designs account for the major symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, including memory loss and disorientation. If designers and architects create spaces with Alzheimer's sufferers in mind, this will make it easier for professional caregivers to ease symptoms, and provide better care. New homes can provide an environment suited to those with dementia, incorporating an up-to-the-minute understanding of the disease and its consequences. [Continued below]

Exceptional memory care homes

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The Dunfield Retirement Residence

The Dunfield Retirement Residence

77 Dunfield Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2H3
The Dunfield Retirement Residence has established a new standard in senior retirement living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with 177 spacious apartments. Where people come to LIVE!
The Village of Erin Meadows

The Village of Erin Meadows

2930 Erin Centre Boulevard, Mississauga, Ontario, L5M 7M4
Mississauga's unique continuum of care concept featuring Independent Living Suites, Retirement Apartments, Full Service Suites with walk out patios, Assisted Care, Memory Care and Long Term Care.
The Village of Arbour Trails

The Village of Arbour Trails

32 Bayberry Drive, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 0A2
Guelph retirement home offers Assisted Living and Alzheimer's Care, includes 24 hour onsite nursing staff and features its own Town Square.
The Village of Wentworth Heights

The Village of Wentworth Heights

1620 Upper Wentworth St, Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 2W3
The Village of Wentworth Heights is a full-service retirement living community offering retirement apartments, full-service suites, assisted living and memory care.
The Village of Tansley Woods

The Village of Tansley Woods

4100 Upper Middle Road, Burlington, Ontario, L7W 4W8
Elegant Burlington, Ontario retirement home including everything from the current long term care to new independent living suites, offering various seniors services.
The Village of Humber Heights

The Village of Humber Heights

2245 Lawrence Avenue West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9P 3W3
The Village of Humber Heights in Etobicoke offers different levels of service from independent apartments with meals to assisted living to long-term care.
The Village of Winston Park

The Village of Winston Park

695 Block Line Road, Kitchener, Ontario, N2E 3K1
This elegant retirement residence in Kitchener-Waterloo offers a continuum of care from long-term care to assisted living to independent living seniors apartments.
The Village of Riverside Glen

The Village of Riverside Glen

60 Woodlawn Road East, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 8M8
This elegant Guelph retirement home offers a range of care including assisted living and long term care, serviced by a friendly, caring staff.
Hawthorn Park Retirement Community

Hawthorn Park Retirement Community

867 KLO Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1Y 9G5
Living at Hawthorn Park Retirement Residence means you have choices & can customize the services you need, as you need them. We offer three lifestyle opportunities; supportive living, assisted living & complex care.
Davenhill Senior Living

Davenhill Senior Living

877 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3M2
Nestled in the heart of Toronto - known for our Christian heritage, exceptional value we provide, we embrace people of all backgrounds. Experience, engage & enjoy all that life has to offer at Davenhill Senior Living!
Symphony Senior Living Kanata

Symphony Senior Living Kanata

27 Weaver Crescent, Kanata, Ontario, K2K 2Z8
Enjoy the natural setting of the surrounding Kanata Lakes with access to shopping, parks and churches at Symphony Senior Living Kanata. This pet friendly community offers a variety of service packages and suites to fulfill your unique needs.
Promenade Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

Promenade Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

110 Rossignol Drive, Orleans, Ontario, K4A 0N2
With so much to do nearby, it’s easy to forget why you might want to stay home, but with its exceptional dining, impeccable design, and fun activities, you’ll find Promenade has many attractions of its own!
Park Place Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

Park Place Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

110 & 120 Central Park Dr, Ottawa, Ontario, K2C 4G3
Whether you're looking for independent living, assisted living or memory care, you can access them all in one location at Park Place. We are a vibrant, social community surrounded by parks and close to many amenities.
Forest Valley Terrace

Forest Valley Terrace

1510 St. Joseph Boulevard, Orleans, Ontario, K1C 7L1
Forest Valley Terrace is proud to be the only community that is designed & dedicated to accommodate the needs of seniors with all stages of Alzheimer’s, dementia or other forms of memory impairment in Ottawa.
Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace

285030 Luther Rose Blvd NE, Calgary, Alberta, T1X 1M9
Prince of Peace a variety of suites styles with kitchenettes and incredible mountain views. It's the perfect residence for seniors who are active, require some assistance, or have memory care needs.
Wintergreene Estates

Wintergreene Estates

4950 Pasqua Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4S 7L2
At Wintergreene you'll discover a combination of independence, privacy, activities, health and wellness programs & friendly companionship to savour throughout your retirement.
OPAL by Element

OPAL by Element

438 West King Edward Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Y2J4
438 West King Edward Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Y 2J4 Opal offers a full continuum of support from Independent Living, Assisted living all the way to Complex Care, allowing the opportunity for aging in place.
New Horizons Tower

New Horizons Tower

1140 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6H 4E6
From gracious dining to new suites and lounges, residents are enjoying the new management and upgrades found at 1140 Bloor Street West, in the Heart of Bloordale Village.
McCowan Retirement Residence

McCowan Retirement Residence

2881 Eglinton Avenue East, Scarborough, Ontario, M1J 0A2
McCowan Retirement Residence is a vibrant and family oriented retirement home located in Scarborough. With team members who have been here since we opened in 2004, you can expect a warm welcome and a feeling of home.
Southbrook

Southbrook

400 Ray Lawson Blvd., Brampton, Ontario, L6Y 4G4
Southbrook is all about choice - the choice to do what you want, when you want. We celebrate independence but we are here to provide assistance whenever you need it. Southbrook....be a part of the family.
Villagia in the Glebe

Villagia in the Glebe

480 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 3N6
Residents can choose their choice of suites with views of the Rideau Canal and Pretoria Bridge. Elegant dining, spacious ballroom, an indoor swimming pool and care services to suite all of your needs. Pet friendly.
Credit River

Credit River

175 Rutledge Rd., Mississauga, Ontario, L5M 0X7
Credit River is a 6-storey condo style residence, with an array of well-appointed suite styles to choose from and our highly-skilled health care professionals are available around the clock if you need them.
Carleton Place Terrace by Symphony

Carleton Place Terrace by Symphony

6 Arthur Street, Carleton Place, Ontario, K7C 4S4
Carleton Place Terrace welcomes pets: offers residents plenty of options with studios and one-bedrooms that may include a kitchenette & / or a walk-out . Activities & chef-prepared meals keep residents healthy & active.
Delmanor Elgin Mills

Delmanor Elgin Mills

80 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4C 0L3
Award Winning Delmanor Elgin Mills, has proudly served the Richmond Hill community over the past 15 years.
Spectrum Health Care

Spectrum Health Care

2 Bloor Street East, Suite 2101, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 1A8
Spectrum Health Care offers a range of quality health care services designed to suit the individual needs of each client. Our services include nursing, personal/home support, foot care, physiotherapy, and companionship.
Holland Gardens

Holland Gardens

552 Holland St W, Bradford, Ontario, L3Z 2H4
Located in the heart of a vibrant community, Holland Gardens is the perfect place to live, laugh and enjoy life. An exciting community offering a luxurious resort lifestyle, an ideal place for inspired senior living.
Carp Commons Retirement Village

Carp Commons Retirement Village

458 Donald B. Munro Drive, Carp, Ontario, K0A 1L0
One visit to Carp Commons Retirement Village and you’ll see the difference in terms of amenities, food, services, programs, and the little touches that make it feel like home.
Seacliff Manor Retirement Residence

Seacliff Manor Retirement Residence

30 Seacliff Drive, Leamington, Ontario, N8H 0E5
At Seacliff Manor, we provide a vibrant, supportive retirement lifestyle complete with restaurant style dining and social events and activities. Choose from independent living, assisted living, and memory care options.
Ravines Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

Ravines Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

626 & 636 Prado Private, Ottawa, Ontario, K2E 0B3
Chartwell Scarlett Heights Retirement Residence

Chartwell Scarlett Heights Retirement Residence

4005 Eglinton Ave West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9A 5H3
Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence

Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence

460 Rymal Road West, Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 0B2
Chartwell Willow Retirement Community

Chartwell Willow Retirement Community

12275-224th Street, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, V2X 6H5
Chartwell Georgian Traditions Retirement Residence

Chartwell Georgian Traditions Retirement Residence

57 Trott Blvd., Collingwood, Ontario, L9Y 0A3
Chartwell Empress Kanata Retirement Residence

Chartwell Empress Kanata Retirement Residence

170 McGibbon Drive, Kanata, Ontario, K2L 4H5
Chartwell Eau Claire Care Residence

Chartwell Eau Claire Care Residence

301 7th Street SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 1Y6

So how do they do that? And what does that look like? Ron and Andrea presented some of their cutting edge designs and ideas at the recent conference from the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA) and the Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA), in Toronto.

Basic principles

Some basic considerations they work from are as follows:

  • Creation of spaces that are home-like (not clinical) in look, feel, layout and scale.
  • Facilitation of closer relationships, where residents become familiar with each other in smaller numbers: "personal relationships are supported and stress levels are minimized by households or situations where 10 or 14 residents have a shared living area," says van der King.
  • Creation of an environment that minimizes seniors' tendency to disorientation, wandering or elopement.

Van der King presented some of her current projects showing how these considerations are implemented into designs.

Here's a look at some actual design features being implemented in new memory care facilities, notably Birchwood Seniors Living in Peterborough, Ontario.  

Design features in new memory care homes

Continuous circulation paths

These are a part of many current memory care facilities. The absence of hallways off to the side, and other dead ends eliminates wrong turns, with the attendant confusion and disorientation that goes along with those.

Accounting for incontinence

Incontinence goes with Alzheimer's Disease, so private suites in Birchwood are designed with the washroom easily accessible, and ideally "in the line of sight" of the senior's bed, to minimize confusion in the middle of the night.

Access to secured outdoor spaces and natural areas

Closed courtyards are part of some traditional retirement homes, certainly, but in memory care designs by van der King, these are created with much more specifications. Circular pathways are one feature seen in current designs like that at Birchwood.

Hallway opening on a wide courtyard, in a dementia care community by van der King Design Group
Bright open hallway, opening on an enclosed courtyard, in a dementia care community by van der King Design Group and Global Architects Inc.

 

Clinical aspects designed as comfortable elements

Birchwood's design tries "as much as possible, to mirror life through the engagement of familiar surroundings" that look like local surroundings. This is most clearly epitomised in the main street and village feel in Birchwood (a design element seen in other contemporary residences, notably Schlegel Villages). Clinical aspects like nursing stations use the facade of a village doctor, which feels more comforting. This is not meant to "trick" those with dementia but guards their safety and security, removing things in their environment that may make them apprehensive or disoriented.

Kiosk in a dementia care community by van der King Design Group and Global Architects Inc.
Friendly-looking kiosk in a dementia care community by van der King Design Group and Global Architects Inc.

 

Biophilic design principles

Features like living walls (also called green walls) are implemented in Birchwood and other contemporary memory care facilities. Birchwood "incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation… and other experiences of the natural world into the modern built environment," says van der King. Birchwood's design aims to provide maximal access to daylight and chooses materials close to those found in the natural world.

Layout that encourages family interaction

Spaces are opened up to a degree, but retain just enough privacy to allow families to cocoon during visits, while being able to interact in a way that mutes any acoustic commotion.

Colour coding and texture orientation

Aspects of hallway design are focused on minimizing resident's need to remember where they are or where they were going. Designs employ elements like colours and textures that orient clients and reinforce that they are on a path that leads somewhere. This has been shown to be very effective in helping dementia sufferers with short term memory loss.

Muted acoustics

According to van der King, "residents often feel overwhelmed when there is too much activity in any setting. Rather than simply reducing all forms of stimulation, we try to focus on minimizing sources of stimulation that have a negative impact on residents."

Entrances and exits that optimize safety and security, preventing anxiety and disorientation

Exiting and elopement tendencies are one of the greatest dangers in older "nursing homes" etc. If it's too easy to find the exit, dementia patients can wander off. One feature that van der King adds is interactive diversions posted at exit points, that help redirect the attention of residents in a more positive manner. This can include colourful flower boxes, for example. When family or others leave the residence through a regular exit door, the resident is diverted from exiting or elopement. 

Design with the needs of memory care patients in mind

The promise in all this is that we will create environments that apply our full understanding of the needs of Alzheimer's patients. These cutting edge memory care designs are a helpful, more compassionate response to the needs of those with dementia. Our understanding of dementia is increasing all the time, and these designs use an understanding of how dementia sufferers see the world around them. The promise in these is that we can create environments that are built with their needs in mind, not one to which they are expected (unrealistically) to adjust to.




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