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Architecture and healthcare: looking into salutogenic design

Salutogenic design is a buzz phrase in the aged care space, but do we really know what it is?

More commonly known as dementia-friendly design, it is a catch-all term easily described as design that makes life better for those with dementia.

The science behind the idea that architecture can affect a person’s health is relatively new, as is the theory of dementia design. The first papers discussing the links can be placed close to the turn of this century.

In recent years we have heard the theory that light can influence hormones through serotonin, and this can affect sleep and overall happiness.

Academics also believe that a number of neurotransmitters react to our environment and these can affect balance, muscular tone, body warmth and hunger, among others.

A study of patients experiencing mental health issues found 30 per cent faster recovery and 38 per cent lower mortality when given sunlit rooms.

One academic interested in salutogenic design in health architecture is Dr Jan Golembiewski, director at Psychological Design. He believes that architecture can have profound impacts on the physical and mental health of patients in healthcare.

He also argues that salutogenics can make residents of aged care happier, assist in treatment and promote and maintain social independence.

Aged Care Insite spoke with Golembiewski to delve into the role psychology plays in dementia design.

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