Designing an adaptive salutogenic care environment

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Dalton, Cathy
Harrison, Jim D.
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Humans are profoundly affected by the surroundings which they inhabit. Environmental psychologists have produced numerous credible theories describing optimal human environments, based on the concept of congruence or “fit” (1, 2). Lack of person/environment fit can lead to stress-related illness and lack of psychosocial well-being (3). Conversely, appropriately designed environments can promote wellness (4) or “salutogenesis” (5). Increasingly, research in the area of Evidence-Based Design, largely concentrated in the area of healthcare architecture, has tended to bear out these theories (6). Patients and long-term care residents, because of injury, illness or physical/ cognitive impairment, are less likely to be able to intervene to modify their immediate environment, unless this is designed specifically to facilitate their particular needs. In the context of care settings, detailed design of personal space therefore takes on enormous significance. MyRoom conceptualises a personalisable room, utilising sensoring and networked computing to enable the environment to respond directly and continuously to the occupant. Bio-signals collected and relayed to the system will actuate application(s) intended to positively influence user well-being. Drawing on the evidence base in relation to therapeutic design interventions (7), real-time changes in ambient lighting, colour, image, etc. respond continuously to the user’s physiological state, optimising congruence. Based on research evidence, consideration is also given to development of an application which uses natural images (8). It is envisaged that actuation will require machine-learning based on interpretation of data gathered by sensors; sensoring arrangements may vary depending on context and end-user. Such interventions aim to reduce inappropriate stress/ provide stimulation, supporting both instrumental and cognitive tasks.
Environmental psychology , Evidence-based design , Salutogenesis , Healthcare architecture , MyRoom
Dalton, C., Harrison, J.D. (2011) ‘Designing an adaptive salutogenic care environment’, Adaptive Architecture Conference, 1st International. Building Centre, London, 03-05 March.
© 2011 The Authors