Dementia friendly gardens and landscapes

With a worldwide trend towards ageing societies, and with greater prevalence of dementia as a health issue, the need has never been greater to think about what that means for how we design our public and private environments. How do we make places that include people with dementia rather than exclude them? How do we use design to make ageing a time of opportunity, fun and creativity rather than a time of isolation and withdrawal?

What is dementia friendly design?

Dementia friendly design recognises that many of the barriers that make it harder for people living with dementia to continue to live full and independent lives can be overcome, often in quite simple ways, by more thoughtful planning. It means recognising the changes that come with ageing and finding design solutions that support rather than hinder older people's enjoyment of their environment.

Our Creative Spaces project is demonstrating the benefits of nature and the outdoors to the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia. Getting outdoors, and engaging with nature-based activities are proving to be easy, low-cost ways for people to reduce symptoms associated with demetia, such as restlessness, poor appetite and disrupted sleep patterns.

We undertake the following:

  • access reviews to identify barriers to access and ways of overcoming them
  • training on using nature and the outdoors in dementia care
  • advice on dementia-friendly design in care and community settings

Examples of our work

Landscape design guidance
Publication "Landscape design for elderly and disabled people"

Our publication has been used as a reference by designers and organisations around the world. It is now out of print and we are in the process of developing a new edition so it can continue to provide practical guidance to those wanting to create new, or renovate existing, landscapes to be enjoyed by older people.

Retirement housing designs
Client: Retirement Security Ltd

Sensory Trust's Jane Stoneham has designed landscapes for retirement housing schemes around the UK, before and since joining the Trust. The landscapes use a style of planting that gives year round interest, lots of detail, the feel of a domestic garden and low maintenance. They provide for individual and group use, and integrate opportunities for more active interests like gardening.

I'DGO project
Consortium research project led by the University of Edinburgh

Sensory Trust was a member of a consortium of academic and non-academic partners researching how to make the urban environment accessible to older people. The project strengthened the case for removing barriers that prevent older people from using their local environment, and highlighted design solutions.

Sheltered housing landscape designed by Jane Stoneham to give year round interest

Age friendly landscape - sheltered housing with landscape designed to provide all year interest and a rich mix of uses

We have been working with older people and outdoor spaces for over 15 years. Our creative, nature based approach is now internationally recognised.

Sheltered housing landscape designed by Jane Stoneham to give year round interest

Sensory Trust article: How nature can help people with dementia feel connected

Dementia training packages

What's in our nature for activity coordinators, residential care and day centre staff.

Is nature in your home for care home managers/owners, day centre managers.