Bolton Clarke Delivers A World's First In Dementia Design

5 years ago
innovAGEING > Case Studies > Bolton Clarke Delivers A World’s First In Dementia Design

The dementia challenge

As the second leading cause of death in Australia, dementia is a significant public health issue. More than 430,000 Australians currently live with the condition, and this is expected to increase to more than one million by 2058.

Dementia is also the single greatest cause of disability for Australians aged 65 years and older, and is associated with complex needs in aged care.

New therapeutic technologies used in other sectors of the health system have shown promise in improving the experience of people with dementia, and this led the Bolton Clarke team to explore their use in a special support unit.


An opportunity

Bolton Clarke’s Galleon Gardens residential aged care community on the Gold Coast required expansion and refurbishment to accommodate a growing demand for aged care beds.

There was also a need for more dementia-specific beds, which prompted an upgrade and refurbishment of the existing special care unit, the Melaleuca Wing.

The Bolton Clarke Behavioural Support Specialists, Clinical Safety and Quality Controllers, Property and Development Managers and Business Innovation Clinicians set about designing an innovative and creative space for residents impacted by dementia.


Best-practice design

Opened in December 2018, the new 36-bed, dementia-specific wing incorporates Stirling University international best-practice dementia design principles.

It supports interaction and positive experiences with an outdoor living area that encourages residents to walk around and explore their surroundings, featuring beautifully manicured gardens, swings, a men’s shed and a retro caravan.

A dynamic way-finding indoor environment includes an open kitchen where residents can cook and enjoy social interactions. The space is peaceful, calming and home-like.


World-first digital wallpaper

The Melaleuca Wing also includes a state-of-the-art interactive digital wallpaper installation. This key feature is a world-first in dementia care.

The digital wallpaper reacts to touch. As residents touch the wall it changes colour, enhancing physical therapy and range of motion. It also encourages intergenerational play between residents and their grandchildren.

The wall has the potential to improve socialisation, enhance meaningful activity, encourage reminiscence and provide sensory stimulation.


Improved wellbeing

The Melaleuca Wing is a wonderful example of how collaboration with residents, integrated technology and innovative thinking can create stimulating environments and improve wellbeing for residents.

In just a few months, employees and family members have noticed improvements in resident behaviours.

Residents are more relaxed and staff have observed an increase in conversation as residents interact with their surroundings, ask questions, make comments and trigger memories.

Staff are spending more time interacting with residents one-on-one, taking the time to show them something new or explain how things work.


A key learning from the Melaleuca Wing is the importance of engaging all stakeholders in the planning and design of purpose-built spaces.

The team consulted experts from within the business as well as external specialists in best-practice dementia design.

They also consulted the residents, whose input was invaluable for understanding their needs, likes and dislikes in creating the perfect home.

Best-practice dementia design is always about the resident and achieving outcomes that benefit them. When designing a living space for people impacted by dementia there must be a fundamental understanding of who these people are, who they were in years past, what they enjoyed and what their capabilities are today.

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