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Vertical Circulation: Lifts

In this article, we clarify why lift controls, lighting and signage must be easy and intuitive to use in dementia friendly hospitals.
Lift signage at St. James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
Photo Design Features
  • The bright colour coding unique to each floor provides a strong visual cue regarding floor location upon entering and leaving the lift.
  • Large format floor numbering and directional arrow provide clear navigational guidance.
  • Consistent symbols and department titles provide coherent wayfinding throughout the hospital.

Lift Design Considerations and Awareness
In a dementia friendly hospital, the passenger lift should be in a logical location and should be clearly visible upon entering and moving about the hospital. Lift controls must be easy and intuitive to use while lighting and signage will make the entrance to the lift easy to locate and use.

The entrance area to the lift or the lift lobby is often a key circulation and orientation node within the hospital and therefore needs to be provided with good orientation and wayfinding signage, floor directories, and hospital maps, where appropriate. As a key decision junction, colour coding symbols and signage should be clearly visible when a person is approaching and exiting the lift, to make it clear what floor they are leaving or arriving to, and what direction they go upon exiting the elevator.

UD Dementia Friendly Design Guidance

  • Access doors to stairs should be well lit and clearly distinguishable from their background by using a different colour or tone.
  • Provide a continuous floor finish and colour from the corridor into the stairs. Where there is a change in material make sure there is minimum colour contrast, particularly at door thresholds.
  • Lift controls should be in a logical position adjacent to the lift where their function and operation is obvious. They should be simple and intuitive to use for a person with dementia.
  • Consideration should be given to the use of mirrors within lifts as these may cause confusion. Similarly, care must be taken with lift announcements to ensure they do not startle or confuse a person with dementia.
  • The entrance area to the lift or the hospital lift lobby should include good orientation and wayfinding signage, floor directories, and hospital maps, where appropriate
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Dementia Inclusive Hospitals from a Universal Design Approach

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