Adapting wayfinding in a residential care facility
A sketch of a rennovated residential care facility hallway features home-like details including framed family photographs and and artwork, wainscoting, warm lighting and wall colors, and a curtain to hide medical equipment.
As part of a course on the intersections of technology, accessibility, and design, I worked with an occupational therapist and an adaptive technology specialist at Dorchester residential care facility The Boston Home who had identified that residents with multiple sclerosis and other progressive neurological conditions had difficulty navigating the facility.
Recommend ways to help residents of The Boston Home navigate the facility to the CEO for reference in future renovations.
We interviewed staff members and residents of The Boston Home to understand how residents currently navigate The Boston Home, how that experience might be improved, and what kinds of interventions might be appropriate in the context of The Boston Home. Following preliminary interviews, we conducted a literature review of academic and non-academic resources on wayfinding accessibility and interior architecture. We continued to talk with residents and staff members throughout the course of the project to test our thinking.
Throughout this process, we were asking the question “how do residents know where they are and how to get where they want to go over the course of their daily activities?”.
Above all, residents and staff valued independence. Residents and staff also noted that the most beloved spaces in the facility were those that felt the most home-like and least clinical.
Proposed interventions needed to support residents’ ability to independently navigate The Boston Home. This ability was broken down into the following parts:
- Ability to physically move from place to place (alone or supported by assistive technology);
- Ability to remember a route and/or create a mental map of a space;
- Ability to localize yourself in your mental map.
All proposed interventions addressed one or more of these abilities, and referenced theories outlined by Eckhard Feddersen and Insa Lüdtke in Lost in Space, a collection of essays on architecture and dementia, which suggest that successful spaces effectively encourage learning, remembering, and feeling.
Our project culminated with the production of a whitepaper, “Recommendations for Improving the Wayfinding Experience in The Boston Home,” delivered to our collaborators at The Boston Home and their CEO. The paper:
- Frames the problem;
- Provides information on prior interventions at The Boston Home;
- Outlines our research process;
- Details general information about residents of the home and lists three possible resident personas to consider in future design work;
- Outlines design principles future interventions should uphold: independence, safety, perceptibility, intuitiveness, and homeyness;
- Suggests wayfinding interventions at a variety of pricepoints that focus on learning, remembering, and feeling, as per Eckhard Feddersen’s theories detailed in Lost in Space : Architecture and Dementia;
- Provides considerations for future work.
- The Institute for Human Centered Design
Lost in Space: Architecture and Dementia — Insa Lüdtke and Eckhard Feddersen
The Role of Human Factors in Home Health Care — National Research Council Committee on the Role of Human Factors in Home Health Care
- Making home in the age of globalization: A comparative analysis of elderly homes in the U.S. and Korea — Jung-hye Shin