New faster and cheaper BIM construction care home model could help tackle nation’s chronic shortage of high quality dementia care facilities


Work is under way to build the Lakes Care Centre, the UK’s first pre-designed ‘flexible model’ specialist dementia care home which will be developed 30 per cent faster and at three quarters of the cost of traditional procurement. The 3,600m2 scheme in South Cerney, Gloucestershire, is being delivered by Stepnell in partnership with care home investors and developers Brackley Investments and Hunter Architects for the Order of St John’s Care Trust (OSJCT) who will lease the building.

The innovative two storey, 64 ensuite bed facility, is a StepCare specialist dementia care scheme, which uses intelligent 3D building information modelling (BIM) to optimise the functionality and performance of the building. The StepCare scheme is also modelled on environmental design principles that promote and enable dementia sufferers to live more independently, developed by the University of Stirling, a world leader in the design of services and environments for people with dementia.

The scheme’s flexible design allows for the Lakes Care Centre to make adaptations to the building to meet residents’ requirements and the local vernacular architecture.

Due for completion at the end of this year, the Lakes Care Centre’s living accommodation is split over two floors into four ‘households’ of 16 ensuite bedrooms. The households are connected to a central hub made up of themed common areas.

“Each household has access to communal gardens or a balcony terrace as well as its own lounge and dining space for smaller eight-person groups and there is also a larger lounge and sitting room at the end of each wing,” explains David Brill, design and build director for StepCare developer, Stepnell. “The households also all have their own care office, assisted bathroom, WC and clinical storage facilities.”

The Lakes Care Centre will use StepCare’s ‘visual access’ design concepts to help residents navigate their way around the building and find their destinations. Splayed corridors and the use of openings and screens to provide a clear line of sight for example, will be used to promote intuitive building navigation along with destination points to end corridors, carefully designed levels of lighting to reduce stress whilst minimising the risk of trips and sensory communal gardens with destination focal points.

“The ‘baby boomer’ generation has raised our expectations of living safely, comfortably and as independently as possible in old age. It’s therefore important that the design of the building enables people to feel empowered in their living accommodation rather than marginalised which so often happens to dementia sufferers in traditional nursing care homes,” explains David Brill. “People with dementia don’t want to feel ‘institutionalised’. They want to be able to enjoy and feel comfortable in their surroundings so that they can get on with the business of living life to the full, and as independently as possible. The StepCare care home model is designed specifically to support and improve quality of life for people with dementia.”

The Lakes Care Centre will create a familiar and welcoming environment for residents and includes a wide range of communal facilities including a cinema, hair salon and garden tea room. There will also be landscaped communal gardens with sensory garden areas, raised planters, water features and accessible planting beds for residents to use.

“The number of dementia sufferers are expected to double from 800,000 to 1.6m over the next 25 years,” says David Brill. “StepCare offers an innovative and affordable approach to care home design and construction which could help meet this need. We believe it sets a benchmark for specialist dementia care facilities for the future.”

The Lakes Care Centre is one of several care home developments which Stepnell has built for OSJCT in Devizes, Trowbridge, Malmesbury, Cheltenham and Grantham.

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