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Dementia-friendly heritage settings: a research review

Monika Sharma (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Angela Lee (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)

International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation

ISSN: 2398-4708

Article publication date: 2 September 2019

Issue publication date: 16 March 2020




Preserving our built heritage from the onslaught of weather, pollution, development and the effects of tourism is a complex endeavour. Appended to this is the need to ensure that heritage buildings are inclusive to all users. Thus, built heritage is plagued with contradictions and conflict between conservation goals and those to support inclusivity given the limited resources often available. Dementia has been purposely selected for this study as numbers of diagnosed sufferers are increasing at an alarming rate, and enagement with heritage has been proven to support well-being. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


This research review draws on systematic principles and presents an analysis of the available literature on well-being programmes designed for people living with dementia and their care supporters, with particular reference to programmes in heritage settings, and the resulting impact for users.


This review critically evaluates the available evidence from published literature on the role of the heritage setting, on how it impacts on the experience of dementia participants. In doing so, it draws on findings from the experiences and well-being of people living with dementia and their care supporters; assesses the current state of knowledge, identifies support implications and makes recommendations for future research. In doing so, it highlights a dearth in the literature on research related to the physical environment setting, particular addressing any cognitive impairments that may arise that can alter psychosocial processes, such as lighting, temperature, acoustics and materiality, so that they can be understood and suitably adapted to support the well-being of those living with dementia.


The scant lack of financial resources to support inclusivity in built heritage, and the argument that some heritage cannot be adapted, often leads to only limited opportune for people with dementia. Thus, there is an inherent need for an understanding of current research and well-being programmes so that it can be focalled in the future to support built heritage tourism in a way that it is inclusive to all.



Sharma, M. and Lee, A. (2020), "Dementia-friendly heritage settings: a research review", International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 279-310.



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