The Times Features Loveday Abbey Road

Loveday was delighted to be featured in The Times, in an article titled "How to Design Homes for Seniors Living with Dementia" following the journalist’s visit to Loveday Abbey Road.

Read the full feature on THE TIMES or please scroll down to read below.

The journalist enjoyed a tour with Paul Blenkinsop, Loveday’s Property Director who was instrumental in building the home, employing dementia design principals from the University of Stirling Dementia Services Development Centre.

The article focuses on changes that can be incorporated into a home, using Loveday’s design innovation as an example

The article addresses the importance of creating dementia-friendly living spaces for seniors, highlighting the need for thoughtful design considerations that can enhance the quality of life and well-being of individuals living with dementia, praising Loveday’s execution in the state-of-the-art home.

The significance of creating a safe and comfortable environment that supports the unique challenges faced by people living with dementia is highlighted within the article and showcases some of the well-thought-out design and technology innovations within Loveday Abbey Road including lighting, safety features handrails, slip-resistant flooring, and easily accessible bathroom facilities and the importance of removing potential hazards, such as sharp edges or clutter, that can pose risks to individuals with dementia. Considerations for lighting, colour, dining, art and communal areas are also detailed within.

Loveday Abbey Road has been a hugely successful collaboration between leading architects, designers, and healthcare professionals in creating this dementia-friendly home. By implementing innovative design principles and creating a supportive environment, it is possible to enhance the quality of life and promote independence for our Members, whilst ensuring their safety and well-being.

Read the full feature on THE TIMES or please scroll down to read below.


How to design homes for seniors living with dementia

Furniture, colours, lighting and blackout blinds can all improve conditions for those who have the syndrome

By Hugh Graham

Friday May 19 2023, 12.01am, The Times

If you get dementia, which statistically is increasingly likely — one in three born in Britain this year will develop it in their lifetime, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK — you’d better hope you end up living in Loveday Abbey Road, a specialist care home in St John’s Wood, northwest London.

Opened in March, this Victorian mansion has been rebuilt and redesigned to make life easy for those living with dementia — in this case, 26 residents. Its interiors have been sense-checked by Stirling University, which wrote the book on dementia design; it offers a course on the subject at its Dementia Services Development Centre. Loveday’s property director, Paul Blenkinsop, took the course and took me on a tour of Abbey Road to show me what a state-of-the-art dementia care home looks like. Be warned: fees start at £3,000 a week, but many of these design principles can be applied at home. 



Many people with dementia experience sundowning — a sense of confusion, aggression and agitation as the sun goes down. This can leave them wide awake at night and sleepy during the day. It is thought that light therapy can help to alleviate this. At Loveday Abbey Road they use a Lutron Dali lighting system to regulate people’s circadian rhythm: in all the bedrooms and communal areas at 6am a warm yellow light set to 2,700 kelvins comes on; by midday the light ramps up to a cool blue at 5,000 kelvins; it falls back to 2,700 by 9pm. 

Research shows that lack of sleep worsens memory, so bedrooms have automated blackout blinds that ensure bedrooms are dark at night. A light over the bathroom door stays on at 1 per cent all night to act as a nocturnal signpost. If a resident rises to use the bathroom, a sensor turns on the lights in the bedroom and bathroom to a 20 per cent brightness. 

Rather than entirely using overhead lights, which feels institutional, rooms are decorated with a mixture of pendants, table lamps, recessed lights and coffered ceiling LEDs. All the layers add brightness — the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) recommends you maximise artificial light when designing for dementia, Blenkinsop says. So lux levels, which measure how bright a surface will be, are 700-1,000, rather than the 100-200 found in some retirement homes. This allows residents to more easily focus on tasks. 


Colour codes

Changes in perception and visual confusion are hallmarks of dementia. “Trying to make their environment as clear as possible is a big part in improving somebody’s life,” Blenkinsop says. One design fundamental is tonal contrast: ensuring the right degree of contrast between a floor and a wall, so residents can tell where one ends and another one begins, and don’t walk into a wall.

When differentiating the two surfaces, aim for at least a 30 per cent difference in tonal shade. The same goes for a lavatory against a bathroom floor, to sharply delineate the seat for residents. Conversely, on the floors, the less tonal contrast the better: if you’re walking from a vinyl floor in the bedroom to a porcelain tile in the bathroom, or putting a rug on top of a carpet, the difference in shade should be no more than 10 per cent. That’s because if you put a dark rug on a light surface, residents may think it is a hole.

James Cook, managing director at Loveday, recalls a swirly patterned carpet at their first residence in Chelsea that a resident refused to step over. (At Abbey Road, most of the rugs are placed underneath furniture to avoid trip hazards.) 

When choosing decor, tonal contrast is measured in light reflectance value (LRV). Not every interiors brand provides this. But every paint has an LRV that can be looked up on; Duraflor and Forbo Flooring provide LRV. 

The old thinking in dementia design emphasised sharply contrasting colours. Many dementia wards of yore use primary colours and red lavatory seats. But new research shows it’s the tonal contrast, not the hue, that’s important, so different shades of brown can do the trick, for instance. 

Colour can be a useful general signpost, however: every bathroom has a door that’s a specific shade of grey, to remind residents there’s a lavatory behind it. 


Bedrooms and bathrooms

There should always be a clear sightline from the bed to the lavatory: if residents wake up in the night and can’t see the lavatory, they are more likely to become disorientated and suffer an accident. The bathrooms at Loveday Abbey Road use old-fashioned separate hot and cold taps; often people with dementia can remember long into the past when taps were separate, but would be confused by a modern mixer. The taps are a cross shape as they are the easiest to turn. Every shower and tap has a thermostatic mixing valve that restricts the water temperature so residents can’t scald themselves. 

Mirrors are hidden inside cabinets or removed, as people with dementia can be frightened by the stranger in the mirror. 

To identify their bedroom, in addition to a room number, there are plans to adorn the doors with artworks created by the resident, or a piece of art from home that resonates with them. 


The dining room

People with dementia sometimes forget to eat. The dining room is attached to an open kitchen, so that residents can talk to the chefs and smell the food being prepared, whetting their appetite. And if 26 people are dining together at the same time, the noise and chaos can discourage eating. So the dining room has smaller tables with acoustic padding on the ceiling to deaden the noise; some tables can be moved to lounges.

Sturdy dining tables by SNO Furniture are square with four legs, rather than circular with a central pedestal, as the latter can fall over if residents lean on them to stand up. The dining chairs are by Shackletons, which specialises in furniture for the elderly; the chairs’ two-tone fabrics delineate what is the back and what is the front. 



Art comprises streetscapes or landscapes that show local familiar scenes to jog memory, because 80 per cent of the residents are from the immediate area. Paintings don’t have glass on them as reflections and shadows may alarm residents. The other art is abstract. Portraits are discouraged, as strange faces could be confusing. 


Communal areas 

In communal areas and corridors, doors are kept open and recessed into walls so residents don’t feel restricted and can wander freely. When doors to activity rooms are closed, glazed panels beside them allow residents to see what’s going on inside, so they don’t feel intimidated by a closed door.

The spa in the basement has an Arjo Wellness Nordic Relax Chair that is designed to soothe people with dementia: it reclines, vibrates and massages while playing soothing music. 

Instead of one big noisy lounge, there are six smaller lounges, so if one person is being disruptive, residents can retreat to a quiet space.


The garden

To help with navigation, the sensory garden has a circular path with no dead ends and with distinctive focal points (a water feature, a statue). Scents such as jasmine, lavender and chocolate cosmos evoke memories and soothe the senses. Plants are on raised beds so that people in wheelchairs can touch them. None of the plants is poisonous in case residents eat them.

Bright and boldly coloured flowers — red hot pokers, crocosmia — help the visually impaired. Plants are chosen to emphasise seasonal change so residents know what time of year it is. Benches and seats are dotted everywhere so residents can go at their own pace. “We want people to live as free a life as possible,” Blenkinsop says.


Published: 13th of June 2023 by Loveday & Co

Tagged: Loveday Abbey Road, Dementia, News

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