One of the many difficult experiences that families and clinical staff have when caring for a person with dementia are the challenging behaviours, like wandering and aggression, that result because of the disease process itself. These behaviours can also reduce the quality of life of dementia sufferers themselves, making the disease even more tragic. Over the past years, more and more professionals in the field of dementia care have been advocating the design of physical environments that reduce the incidence of such behaviors.
The Elder Care Programme at Providence Health Care and the Centre for Healthy Aging are undertaking a major collaborative research initiative that will enable us to understand how physical and social environmental factors affect residents, family, staff and others. The 2-year study, through the kind assistance of the St. Vincent's and Holy Family Health Care Foundation and the generous contribution of the Cullen Family, is unique in that it will help us to understand how specific physical designs affect the challenging behaviours of people with dementia and how such designs can optimize the quality of life of those who live, work and visit care facilities. The lead investigators of the study are Drs. Jean Kozak (CHAP), Elizabeth Drance (Elder Care) and Sharon Koehn (CHAP).