Well-being in Memory Care Facilities:
Identifying the Role of Spatial Design for Social Interaction in Empirical Literature
From the last 40 years, the design of the physical environment in supporting dementia residents has been frequently mentioned in the research literature. The environmental design research literature has outlined the importance of social interaction and social network as one of the therapeutic goals to maintain the quality of life (QoL) for people experiencing dementia. Although several previous studies have conducted the empirical literature review to understand the physical environment and associated QoL in long-term care facilities (LTCF), no single study concentrated on the role of spatial design in social interaction. For elderly people with dementia, changes in their social or physical environment, or manifestations of dementia may have an influence on their social interaction and therefore, it is imperative to understand the factors associated with the physical environment, social interaction and thereby the improved quality of life (QoL). This study aimed to fill this gap and contribute to a better understanding of how ‘social interaction’, the most important determinants to measure QoL for people experiencing dementia could be influenced under different spatial design and environmental characteristics. This study provides a comprehensive understanding of the published evidence from diversified sectors such as medical and health literature, environmental psychology, architecture, interior design, and evidence-based design literature. By reviewing relevant literature and discussing environmental design factors associated with social interaction as a determinant of QoL, this paper outlines several critical spatial design characteristics and a comprehensive set of spatial design overview for LTCF that shown to affect positive social interaction and QoL of the residents, staff and their caregivers. The summary of this review could influence the future design of care facilities and provide designers the effectiveness or the weaknesses of their design decisions. As an expected outcome, this applied research could enhance the value and professional practice knowledge of memory care design that have a positive ripple effect in the healthcare design industry.