Among the most successful and influential Institute activities has been the direct provision of programming and design assistance to over seventy care providing organizations and architects engaged in planning environments for people with dementia. The assistance has been provided on both a fee-for-service basis and at no cost to selected organizations (with support from the Faye McBeath, the Robert Wood Johnson, and the Helen Bader Foundations). Direct technical assistance has proven to be a particularly effective mechanism for promoting and realizing more appropriate and therapeutic environments for people with dementia and their care providers, and has contributed substantially to the development of many facilities around the country. The Institute on Aging & Environment views consultation activities as a critically important mechanism for the dissemination of research information and the enhancement of the quality of environments for older persons.
Institute consultations may include the following activities:
Ideally facility staff should be provided with a formal introduction to the concept of the physical setting as a therapeutic resource as well as an overview of key goals in the design of environments for the elderly and the cognitively impaired. This phase can often be effectively handled in an intensive half or full day workshop. The institute staff is also prepared to assist in the selection of architects and any additional consultants.
In redesign and renovation projects it is essential to gain a clear understanding of how well the existing facility is working and to identify and clarify problems. Such evaluation efforts may range from a relatively brief facility "walk through" with a few staff, to more detailed and formal interviews and/or systematic observation of on-going patterns of behavior in selected areas of a facility.
The Institute works with facility staff in the review of those key organizational decisions [philosophy, structure, staffing patterns, and functional (activity) program] which provide the basis for subsequent architectural decisions.
This phase focuses on the development of detailed requirements which any facility design or redesign must satisfy. Such requirements relate to overall building layout and character as well as the nature and locations of specific functions.
Though the Institute typically does not include building design among its consulting services, we do strongly advocate the design review process. As the term implies, Institute staff are prepared to assist in review of interim design solutions, assessing how well they satisfy previously established programmatic requirements,providing critique, and suggesting arange of alternatives, when appropriate.
Institute staff are able to assist in the selection of interior designers and to work with them in the development of specifications for furnishings, finishes and equipment.
Fine Tuning & Evaluation
As a final step in the process, a facility should monitor its operations after completion and occupancy. This allows for identification of emerging problems, development of strategies for their resolution, and feeds forward to the Evaluation phase in subsequent cycles of redesign.