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Hawthorn House receives world recognition for enabling design for people living with dementia

Last month world leading dementia organisation Alzheimer’s Disease International released their annual World Alzheimer Report 2020. The report focuses on the positive impact well designed buildings and outdoor spaces can make for people living with dementia.

A total of 84 case studies of day centres, residential care centres, public buildings and hospitals were featured from 27 countries. We were absolutely delighted to see that our very own Hawthorn House was featured as the first case study in Volume 2 of the report, one of only two Australian day centres to be included.

Hawthorn House is a world class day centre built exclusively to support people living with dementia in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. The house was designed to deliver a warm, familiar homelike environment. Built in 2014, the house won a Western Australia master builder award for best commercial building in the Great Southern.

Hawthorn House is based on our Enabling Household™ model and supports meaningful engagement, social connection and a sense of ownership by house members. People living with dementia can spend a few hours at the house, a few days or anything in between. This provides a break for the family carer as well as improving wellbeing for the person living with dementia.

It also acts as a community resource and hub and welcomes the community to the house. This includes groups such as a community choir and children’s playgroup.

The domestic style kitchen is large and welcoming and offers varying levels of engagement from sitting at the kitchen table watching what’s going on, to preparing food or doing the dishes.

The style of furniture is familiar to members, chosen to be exactly what they are used to. A lot of emphasis has been placed on reducing noise and clutter. The doors that are not intended to be used by people living with dementia have been blended into the background while a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the use of colour, contrast and lighting to highlight those things that the attendees may wish to find, the toilet door for example.

Access to garden spaces is clear and wayfinding paths support transition through the garden spaces. Seating areas have been set up to enjoy the view of the woodlands or the paddock, filled with kangaroos and cows. The garden is an active space with a fruit orchard, chicken coup, clothes line, men’s shed and raised vegetable gardens – all meaningful engagement opportunities.

Attendees are active members of the household with daily opportunities to take part in everyday activities such as collecting eggs, gathering wood for the fire or picking fruit for lunch.

We have two more day centres, Ella’s House in Mandurah and Mary Chester House in Shenton Park. Although these two houses were not custom built, they have been refurbished using the same design principles used to create Hawthorn House. They also operate using the same person-centred philosophy of care.

It is so important to create environments that enable people living with dementia, and that support autonomy, ability and independence. As Western Australia’s leading dementia support organisation we are thrilled to see positive dementia design recognised on a global scale. The 2020 World Alzheimer Report Design, Dignity and Dementia can be found at Alzheimer’s Disease International’s website alz.co.uk

If you would like further information on dementia, want to know more about our services or just to chat, call us on 1300 66 77 88, email support@alzheimerswa.org.au.

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