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New book lights the way for better dementia care

A new book highlighting the importance of lighting design and access to daylight in boosting the health and wellbeing of older people and those living with dementia has been released by aged care provider HammondCare’s publishing branch - HammondCare Media.

Associate Professor Colm Cunningham David McNair at the Enlighten launch in Sydney, 31 October (Source: HammondCare)
Associate Professor Colm Cunningham David McNair at the Enlighten launch in Sydney, 31 October (Source: HammondCare)

The new book, Enlighten, by co-authors David McNair - Chartered Lighting Engineer and consultant to HammondCare and the Dementia Centre, Associate Professor Colm Cunningham - Director of the Dementia Centre, and Architect Richard Pollock, was released on 31 October at the Dementia Centre in Sydney and is used as a dementia design resource.

Mr McNair says the principles and other recommendations in Enlighten will help guide care professionals, architects, designers and project managers as they develop or refurbish aged care homes - with some advice that can also be ‘very helpful’ at home.

“Light and lighting that promotes health and independence doesn’t just happen,” he says.

“It needs to be designed, with awareness of the specific needs of older people and people with dementia.

“For example, lighting may well be designed by a younger person, say in their 40s, and we know a person in their 40s needs half as much light as a person in their 70s needs to get about their day in comfort and safety.

“When decorators choose fashionable colour schemes are they aware of the research that says older people and especially people with dementia need more contrast between the floor and the wall so they can easily find their way?”

He adds that reducing risk of injury from falls is also a key area in the book, both due to better lighting and contrast but also by increasing access to sunlight and Vitamin D in turn which is good for musculoskeletal health.

“We hope that the aged care sector will have better awareness of the principles of designing lighting for older people and people with dementia,” he explains.

“In many cases this will mean increasing lighting, better access to daylight and direct sunlight, appropriate contrast of surfaces, no confusing shadows and patterns, and a 24 hour lighting cycle of light and dark.

“We give examples and recommendations in the book - that’s why Enlighten and our other dementia design resources and consultancy is important.”

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