Virtual reality platform promotes better dementia design

A groundbreaking virtual reality platform, developed with insights and expertise from HammondCare’s Dementia Centre, will guide designers and builders in developing environments for people living with dementia.

News of the release was first shared overnight in the United Kingdom -  the Virtual Reality Empathy Platform (VR-EP) allows consultants in dementia design to see the environment through the eyes of a person with dementia using VR simulations of how buildings and interiors may be perceived by someone living with the condition.

Mary Marshall wearing headset 500

Immensely beneficial

Director of the Dementia Centre, A/Prof Colm Cunningham, said the VR-EP was developed by a partnership involving the Dementia Centre, Aitken Turnbull Architects and Wireframe Immersive with funding from Scottish Enterprise.

“One of the biggest challenges for designers and consultants in dementia design is how you convey the experience of the environment for people living with dementia,” A/Prof Colm Cunningham said.

“This device has the potential to be immensely beneficial for researchers, commissioners, architects and interior designers, and many other professionals in this field, and the Dementia Centre and HammondCare are delighted to be part of it. And most importantly, the ultimate beneficiary is the person living with dementia.”

People with dementia to contribute

Work on the project, which began in Scotland more than six months ago, involved sharing research and experiences of living with dementia to the design team.

“As we continue to refine the platform we will involve people with dementia so that we have a range of experiences contributing to this work.

“Through this device, we can share daily sensory challenges, for example a person with dementia might see changing patterns on a carpet, or toilets might seem to disappear if they are in an all-white bathroom.

“From an acoustic perspective you might find that background noise can be distracting, stressful or overwhelming.”

 

VREP - how a person with dementia might experience a bedroom which has been designed with dementia in mind.   VREP - how a person with dementia might experience a bedroom which has not been designed with dementia in mind.
VREP - how a person with dementia might experience a bedroom which has been designed with dementia in mind vs. how a person with dementia might experience a bedroom which has not been designed with dementia in mind.

Better environments

A/Prof Cunningham said the VR-EP would be a valuable tool for all organisations like HammondCare that were committed to improving the lives of people living with dementia.

“As we build new homes or refurbish current premises, it will inform and guide us to build a better environment for those in our care.”

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