Scientists have developed the first app of its kind in the world that can digitally assess how suitable a residence, care facility or other environment is for people living with dementia. The dementia database, called IRIDIS, will make a simple assessment of a person's home and recommend changes that can be made to the building, including lighting, colour contrast and noise.
The app developed by researchers at University of Stirling in the UK will address physical aspects of design which impact older people's quality of life and their ability to live more independently. People living with dementia, family members, healthcare professionals, construction experts or designers using the app, will be asked to take photographs and answer questions about their surroundings.
It will take around just 20 minutes to assess the suitability of a two-bedroom home for an older person using the app, which will be available for download from September 21, on International Alzheimer's Day. Improvements the app may recommend will be as simple as changing a light bulb, to more complex improvements such as reconfiguring bathrooms. "This is a unique opportunity to revolutionise how we improve day-to-day life for older people and people living with dementia around the world," said Lesley Palmer, Chief Architect at Stirling's Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC).
"We are creating a simple way for anyone to assess how dementia-friendly their environment is, and find out how to improve their surroundings," said Palmer. With around 50 million people estimated to be living with dementia worldwide, there is an immediate need to invest in our ageing population and provide improved services and facilities.
"Typically, people living with dementia have greater demands on the health care services and providing guidance on how to adapt living conditions allows people to stay independent for longer and future proofs housing for autonomous living," Palmer said. "Previous dementia design application platforms have focused entirely on the dissemination of information, as opposed to harnessing the opportunity to collect data and strike a two-way channels of communication between the researcher, designer and the end user," said Stephen Brooks, Director at Space Architects, which collaborated with DSDC researchers in the development of the app.
Design modification data collected from the app will allow IRIDIS to continually update the app and improve results for future users.