Designing The Dementia-friendly Waiting Room

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December 15, 2021



By Jen Worley and Chase Miller

For many patients, a hospital is challenging due to its stressful, busy, and unfamiliar nature. But for a person with dementia, the experience can be exacerbated by cognitive impairment and behavioral or psychological symptoms, making it a frightening, distressing, and disorientating place. For this vulnerable population, unintended consequences of unsupportive design include longer hospital stays, more emergency department visits, and more frequent hospital admissions.

To deliver a dementia-supportive waiting room, speakers Addie Abushousheh, gerontological research associate at The Center for Health Design (Concord, Calif.); Jen Worley, director of design research at BSA LifeStructures (Indianapolis, Ind.); and Chase Miller, director of planning at BSA LifeStructures, discussed how to translate person-centered design strategies (e.g., promoting autonomy and self-sufficiency through visible destinations, manageable walking distances, and adaptable furnishings and arrangements) drawn from dementia-focused design interventions in residential care settings. This approach can support equitable access for the broadest range of patients in a healthcare setting.

The presenters outlined design strategies relevant to waiting rooms that support aging and those with dementia, which can be found here.