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Dementia-friendly hospital design goes online

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Angela Rippon cuts the ribbon at the Virtual Hospital opening watched by Professor June Andrews
Angela Rippon cuts the ribbon at the Virtual Hospital opening watched by Professor June Andrews

Dementia experts from the University of Stirling have created the world’s first dementia-friendly Virtual Hospital.

With a quarter of acute hospital beds occupied by people with dementia, it is vital hospital design promotes patient safety rather than putting people at risk.

The Virtual Hospital demonstrates how good design can meet the needs of this fast-growing patient group. It has been developed by the University’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC).

“We know that traditional acute hospitals are very dangerous places for people with dementia,” says DSDC Director, Professor June Andrews. “But we also know from the evidence how to make them safer environments, and we have developed this resource to share our knowledge widely.”

The dementia-friendly Virtual Hospital, designed by Edinburgh-based BPA Architecture and funded by a grant from the Robert Bosch Foundation, is web-based, interactive, and free to access.

Presenting the layouts of 15 different hospital areas, the Virtual Hospital demonstrates the principles of dementia-friendly design in the acute setting.

It was officially launched at the Design Council in London today (5 November) by broadcaster Angela Rippon OBE, who is calling on architects to put the needs of dementia patients at the heart of new hospital design.

She said: “Patients living with dementia is the fastest growing group of new admissions in our hospitals, but even some of the most modern are wholly unsuitable environments for people affected by this condition. This new virtual resource demonstrates how acute design can be practically applied to meet the needs of this group of patients more effectively.”

Professor Andrews added: “As our populations age, dementia rates are set to soar around the world. Many older people experiencing cognitive decline will still need to access acute care, and they deserve to have their needs met safely.

“We know from hard evidence which design details help people with dementia to stay safe in hospital. Our Virtual Hospital puts that information at the fingertips of designers, planners and healthcare providers, wherever they happen to be.”

The Virtual Hospital’s sister site - the Virtual Care Home - has received more than 30,000 hits from all over the world since its launch last year.  

Visit the Virtual Hospital

Background information

The Dementia Services Development Centre is part of the School of Applied Social Science at the University of Stirling.

Angela Rippon OBE is co-chair of the Dementia-Friendly Community Champions Group, part of the UK Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge.

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