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Public Transport Stops, Street Furniture, and Lighting

In this article, we evaluate the design of public spaces for increased legibility, distinctiveness and familiarity to people living with dementia.
Public Footpath, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

Photo Design Features

  • Wide level footpaths along approach areas to hospital.
  • Seating to provide rest and an opportunity to stop and orientate. Main access clearly identified with roofed entrance gateway.

Design Considerations and Awareness

The urban form can contribute to increased legibility, distinctiveness and familiarity, which helps with orientation and navigation in the public realm. Street lighting and street furniture, such as signage, can reinforce and supplement these designs principles to ensure that the street environment is easily understood by people with dementia.

People with dementia, like most older people and individuals who are visually impaired, will often need higher levels of lighting to compensate for vision difficulties, which may be related to both older age and dementia. The design of artificial light should seek to create even illumination, reduce the effects of glare and enhance task visibility.

UD Dementia Friendly Design Guidance

  • Provide minimal street signage, especially at junctions, which concentrates on key essential information in a legible and familiar format that will be recognisable to people with dementia.
  • Ensure all signage uses non-reflective material, provides large easy-to-read graphics and characters and employs contrasting colours to increase legibility of information.
  • Beyond signage, other cues such as sound, touch, or smell can be used to reinforce wayfinding to help with orientation and navigation. For instance, plants with distinct smells (such as lavender) may trigger certain memories and may be used at the entrance to a hospital campus to help communicate the function of the space.
  • Provide comfortable seating with back and arm rests every 100m to 125m. Arm rests will help a person get in and out of a seat while back rests provide additional support and resting places to lean on as a person walks along a street.
  • Provide seating and shelters at bus stops to provide greater comfort and safety for people using public transport.
  • Ensure that artificial lighting provides even illumination along exterior paths while highlighting key areas such as building entrances, steps, and ramps. Pedestrian walkways should have an average maintained illuminance of 30 lux, while entrances, steps and ramps should have an illuminance of 100 lux.
  • Ensure that any lighting does not produce a glare, or result in excessive reflection or shadows as this may cause confusion or disorientation for some people living with dementia.
  • While lighting bollards may be useful for highlighting paths it is important that they do not emit light upwards as the resulting glare may cause difficulties for people with dementia.
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Dementia Inclusive Hospitals from a Universal Design Approach

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