The Multi Sensory Environment (MSE) in dementia care: the role of design

This interdisciplinary research aims to explore the quality of multi-sensory stimulation offered in homes caring for residents living with dementia, and whether design can help to improve such experiences maximising their benefits.
The project, which is funded by the AHRC, evolved from broader consideration in respect to the rising number of people affected by dementia, the rapid growth of an ageing population, the over-prescribed use of antipsychotic medication and the need for cost-effective interventions supporting dementia care. Within this context, strategies of providing specific sensory experiences are examined focusing on Multi Sensory Environments (MSEs) used in dementia care as both a resource for meaningful leisure activity and a therapeutic intervention. The project investigates the current design and application of MSE facilities, including aesthetic qualities and functional parameters, within a care home context. Because little documented design guidance for MSEs for older people with dementia exists, the overall purpose of the research is to establish new knowledge from which coherent, user-centred design solutions can be developed. In this respect, the research outcomes will potentially contribute towards improved care services for those living with dementia.
This project is a cross-institutional collaboration between Kingston University and University of Southampton. One of the country’s leading social and health care providers, Care UK supports the research as a Project Partner.

Visit Multi Sensory Environment (MSE) blog

Researchers on the project:

Dr Anke Jakob (PI), Design Research Fellow, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Kingston University Visit Anke's profile
Dr Lesley Collier (Co-I), Researcher and Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton Visit Lesley's profile

Advisory Panel of Experts:

Prof. Hilary Dalke, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Kingston University (Panel Chair)
Prof. Paul Chamberlain, Lab4Living Design Director and Head of Art and Design Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University
Prof. Mary Chambers, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Kingston University and St George's University of London
Alessio Corso, Product Designer and Lecturer, London South Bank University
Fiona Fowler, Managing Director, Dementia Works Ltd
Maizie Mears-Owen, Head of Dementia, Care UK
Jane Roberts, Chief Officer, Worcester Snoezelen

Project duration:

March 2013 - August 2014

Upcoming events:

Sensory Rooms: Designing Interventions to support dementia care
From: Tue 21 October 2014
To: Sat 25 October 2014
More info

Designing Interventions to support dementia care: Presentations and Panel Discussion
Fri 24 October 2014, 2pm - 4pm
More info


How to make a Sensory Room for people living with dementia
A Guide Book
Download pdf

Partners include:

de partner: Arts and Humanities Research Council de partner: British Council de partner: Adapt Low Carbon Group de partner: The InCrops Enterprise Hub de partner: The Audi Design Foundation de partner: Care UK de partner: Ecobuild de partner: mspace architects and contractors