Making hospitals dementia-friendly: new report from the King’s Fund

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It’s estimated that around one quarter of patients in general hospitals in England have cognitive problems or dementia. Visiting hospital can be a frightening experience and levels of anxiety are only heightened by the visuospatial problems that often affect people with dementia.

As part of the National Dementia Strategy, the Department of Health has supported a new project by the King’s Fund called ‘environments of care for people with dementia’. The aim of the project is to highlight practical, value-for-money examples to encourage and inspire staff and their organisations to provide care environments that work for people with dementia.

A project report was published last week that showcases 26 schemes in acute, community and mental health hospitals. Each scheme is briefly described with before and after photographs to illustrate the key changes.

The report contains the ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment assessment tool’, which staff and carers can use to measure how dementia-friendly their care environment is (see p.95 of the PDF report).

The report also summarises 5 overarching design principles (see p.100) that can help make significant improvements to the physical environment in all settings. The aim is that these design changes can help achieve the following outcomes:

  • Easing decision-making
  • Reducing agitation and distress
  • Encouraging independence and social interaction
  • Promoting safety
  • Enabling activities of daily living

Anyone with a particular interest in this field might like to check out the King’s Fund event taking place in March 2013: Designing Hospital Environments for People with Dementia.


Improving the patient experience: Developing Supportive Design for People with Dementia. The King’s Fund’s Enhancing the Healing Environment Programme 2009-2012 (PDF). King’s Fund, 9 Jan 2013.

Environments of care for people with dementia. King’s Fund project, funded by the Department of Health.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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