Scottish dementia project sets new standard

Crosslet House designed to look like a five-star hotel and reduce anxiety among residents

Crosslet House

People with dementia are being given a helping hand dealing with the degenerative nature of the disease simply through the surroundings in which they live in.

Drawing on dementia design best practice from around the world, the new Crosslet House in Dumbarton focuses on removing many of the stresses which make dementia so frightening.

And residents who have recently moved into the £10m development have even likened it to a five-star hotel.

We have drawn ideas from other areas which have implemented good practice and have learnt a lot from what they have done. But there’s a lot we have done differently which we think is better

With a modern cinema room, outdoor terrace, internet rooms, gardens, hair salon, and nail bar; the facility provides 84 beds as well as day centre care.

A world apart from stereotypical care homes in converted old buildings; the unit, designed by Cooper Cromar and built by Morgan Sindall, has bright interiors, high-tech features, and adaptable flexible spaces.

Residents are free to walk around, providing a sense of freedom within a secure environment that is often sacrificed when dementia is at a very-advanced stage.

Phil MacDonald, West Dunbartonshire Council’s integrated operations manager of care home development, said: “We have drawn ideas from other areas which have implemented good practice and have learnt a lot from what they have done. But there’s a lot we have done differently which we think is better.

“We have undertaken a significant amount of research to get this right. For example, we have sought research around the use of space and colour to assist those with dementia.

“Everything has been designed in accordance with light reflectance values, where tonal contrasts in design helps to prevent accidents among those with dementia.

“For example, some people who have dementia may see a stranger looking back at them when they look into a mirror so we sourced mirrors for the en-suite bathrooms which can be easily flipped over.”

The building itself is split into three houses – Drumkinnon, Dalquhurn and Denny. Each has four flats designed around primary colours to assist those with dementia to identify their own area.

There are lounges and adaptable communal spaces within each flat, which can be used as recreational rooms for hobbies or allow families to organise special events.

The lounges and bedrooms each have wall-mounted Smart TVs, which transmit films and performances playing in the cinema room.

This is a care home which has been built for the new generation of older people who are tech savvy and want to Skype relatives and check their emails

The en-suite flats can accommodate up to seven residents, with see-through boxes outside each room containing treasured mementoes to aid navigation and memory.

MacDonald said: “Everything from the colour of the flat doors to kitchen appliances and outdoor panelling is designed in accordance with each colour.

“It means residents can identify their home with that colour and feel confident exploring their surroundings, whether it be going for a walk in the gardens or to a hairdressing appointment.

“In-depth consideration has been applied to every area of design.

“This is a care home which has been built for the new generation of older people who are tech savvy and want to Skype relatives and check their emails.

“It moves away from the traditional care home model where residents would have a small room within a building.”

Within the building staff must scan into each room, with a computer automatically logging their whereabouts.

There is also CCTV covering the entire building and staff have pagers which sound if certain security doors are opened.

Civil and structural engineering work on the project was undertaken by Stuart McTaggart, while mechanical and electrical work was led by Ramboll, with RLF the quantity surveyor.

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