Spatial Design & Dementia

Designing to Foster Meaningful Relationships: Families Living with Dementia in Long-term Care


Working with the Geriatric Psychiatry unit of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute at UHN (“5 South”) in Toronto, our full-time cohort conducted both primary and secondary research in alignment with a Request for Proposal from 5 South. The result helped us frame a number of research questions that informed design concepts and diagrams.

Being more familiar with the autism community, I explored this as a parallel in rapid literature reviews and found Magda Mostafa's sensory design theory in architecture. This theory formed one of a collection of design principles for our cohort moving forward. Together, Laura Halleran and I wrote a meta-ethnography that laid the foundation for our concept designs focusing on family-oriented relational care. We later presented our findings at the Design 4 Health conference in Sheffield, England (2018).

Design Researchers

Teresa Coronel Abungin, Filipe De Abreu Ligabue, Laura Halleran, Avital Lang, Alison Mulvale, Angelsea Saby, Sonia Tagari, Arezoo Talebzadeh

PRoject LEads

Maya Desai, Bruce Hinds, Dr. Kate Sellen (OCAD University)
Robin Shan, Alison Lake, Dr. Ron Koren (TRI, Unit 5 South)


Laura Halleran, Angelsea Saby. Designing to Foster Meaningful Relationships for Families Living with Dementia in Long-term Care. Paper presented at: Design 4 Health; 2018 September; Sheffield, England.


Whether or not an individual experiences a sense of home is thus dependent on...the relevant factors in the broader social and relational environment (not just the physical)
— Robinson, Reid & Cooke, 2010