Health Promotion by Design in Elderly Care
Prof. Alan Dilani, Ph.D. and Agneta Morelli, B.Sc.
The purpose of this study was to systematically investigate the environmental requirements of health promotion by design in elderly care and to identify the specific supportive design conditions contributing to the promotion of healthy living and working environments. Methods: A combination approach based on the Future Workshop model (action research) was used. The reference group consisting of thirty persons participated in a series of workshops, seminars and field studies. A questionnaire directed to health care staff included subjective measures of health using the Sense of Coherence Scale, a Health Index Scale and a section of questions developed by the authors regarding the experienced physical environment. The study was carried out at Vårbergs Nursing Home in Stockholm, Sweden during the year 2004. Results: The results pointed to a correlation between experienced health and sense of coherence among health care staff. The importance of the physical living and working environment for health rated higher compared to existing environmental conditions. Specific and essential design requirements for healthy living and working environments in elderly care were identified and recommended. Implications: This research demonstrates a need to develop organizational values and non-pharmacological alternatives within elderly care. The designed environment is one of the most enduring approaches and requires a deeper understanding of the interaction between the physical environment and the aging person in this particular setting. Conditions to support health among the elderly would be improved through the use of psychosocially supportive design as a complement to the medical model.