Enlighten - lighting for older people and people with dementia

A new book from HammondCare Media throws the spotlight on the importance of lighting design and access to daylight in boosting the health and wellbeing of older people and people with dementia.

Providing general insights for a broad readership, important advice for care professionals and detailed technical information for engineers, architects and designers, Enlighten is a must read for those concerned with making a difference to the lives of older people.

Author David McNair from the UK, a chartered lighting engineer, said light and lighting that promotes health and independence doesn’t just happen.

“It needs to be well designed, thoughtful and address the specific needs of older people and people with dementia,” he said.

“After food, lighting is the most important environmental input for supporting physical wellbeing and so care environments seeking to be dementia-inclusive need to carefully consider appropriate lighting and access to daylight.

“If you are 75 years of age you need twice as much light as that for a 45-year-old to be able to do the same things comfortably.”

Co-author A/Prof Colm Cunningham, Director of HammondCare’s Dementia Centre, said, “With almost 50 million citizens globally living with dementia, there is a pressing need to build environments that enable the person with the right lighting and access to outdoors. Staff need to be educated and empowered to understand the importance of these feature to support the person with dementia.”

A recent survey conducted on behalf of HammondCare highlighted a lack of understanding in the community around the impact of dementia on senses such as sight and hearing.

“Most people are aware that memory loss and forgetfulness are signs of dementia but as the disease progresses it can affect sensory perception and communication,” A/Prof Cunningham said.

“Good lighting can contribute to good decision making and has been shown to improve confidence, increase appetite, support mobility and therefore capacity and decision making.”

The book will be officially released on 31 October in Sydney with two of the authors, David McNair (UK) and Colm Cunningham available for interview.

HammondCare Media produces a number of books each year on topics covering dementia, aged care, pain, palliative care and leadership.


Recent titles include Music Remembers Me, Intervene: Pain care for older people and people with dementia and
It’s all about the food not the fork! Forthcoming titles include The Room Outside and an adult colour and create book specifically designed for older people.

David G McNair BA, CEng, FILP, MSLL

David McNair is a chartered lighting engineer with extensive experience of lighting for interior and exterior environments. He is a Past President of the Institution of Lighting Professionals, where he served on their technical committee for 12 years, latterly as Chair. Since 2005 he has been studying, designing, advising and lecturing on dementia environments. Much of this time was spent working with dementia experts across Scotland. Realising the significance of natural light, he joined the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers Daylight Group, and became Secretary to it in 2015. In addition, he has collaborated with researchers at Heriot-Watt University and is now a consultant to HammondCare.

Colm Cunningham, MSc (Dementia Studies) BN BSocWk

Director of the Dementia Centre, HammondCare, Colm leads an Australian and International team of over 200 staff involved in research, education and consultancy as well as the translation of this knowledge into accessible publications and tools to improve practice. The centre’s priorities are building design, life engagement, models of care, understanding behaviour and end of life care. Colm is an international expert with over 30 years’ experience in older age care. Colm leads national dementia behaviour response services, Dementia Support Australia, with the aim of reconsidering what it means to have a ‘behaviour of concern’.


A general and intellectual disability nurse and social worker, Colm was the deputy director at the UK Dementia Centre, University of Stirling and has written extensively and undertaken research on a wide range of issues about dementia including design, pain care, hospital care, nighttime care and intellectual disability. Working across a range of faculties of education and research in HammondCare, Colm has significant expertise in supporting translational research and meaningful practice and culture change. Colm is a Conjoint Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales School of Public Health and Community Medicine and a Visiting Fellow in Dementia Design and Practice at the University of Edinburgh School of Health in Social Science. Colm is also a member of the Wicking Strategic Review Panel.    

Richard Pollock BArch, MPhil, RIBA, ARIAS

Richard (Ricky) Pollock formed the architectural and planning consultancy Burnett Pollock Associates with partner David Burnett in 1974. Since then, the Edinburgh-based practice has established both design and research expertise in sustainable development, specialised care accommodation, assistive technology for disabilities and dementia-friendly design.  Richard is currently a consultant to the newly formed practice, BPA Architecture. He was also the Director of Architecture at the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling between 2008 and 2015. Richard is currently an associate consultant architect for HammondCare Dementia Centre in Australia where he is an advisor on all issues of improving the design of the built environment for people with dementia. As an integral part of this consultancy work, Richard has a particular interest in the proven role that better lighting plays in the health and wellbeing of all older people.

Media: For more information contact Nikki Cripps on 02 92686758 or ncripps@hammond.com.au.


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