About Specialist Inclusive Design for elderly living and dementia

All about specialist inclusive building design and evidence supported design intervention to create enabling environments

Why are we passionate about inclusive design for Dementia and elderly living?

As we age our senses, physical mobility, cognitive reserve and sensory processing abilities decline. Our built environment needs to reflect these changes from hospitals, housing, towns and cities to nursing and care homes.

Since the 1990’s society has been inclusive for people with physical impairments. Today the knowledge and skill is available to make our built environment more inclusive for people with sensory and cognitive impairments and more suitable for ageing. Inclusive design can assist people age with dignity, live healthier and with more independence in their own communities while reducing health and care costs.

While dementia is NOT an natural part of ageing, people with dementia can live with a combination of physical, sensory and cognitive impairments over the course of the underlying diseases. Inclusive design is shown through experience, studies and research to reduce stress, anxiety and fear, reduce use of medication and pressure on carers while promoting greater independence and dignity for the person living with dementia.

Dementia is expected to nearly triple in the US, UK, Ireland and globally by 2050 which will cause extreme pressure on global health and care services.

Inclusive design is part of the solution.

DDS designs environments and buildings that are more inclusive for everyone including: ageing, dementia, autism, ADD, stroke, ID, traumatic brain injury etc


Old lady with glasses in wheelchair smiling

DDS Architects are specialists in inclusive design.

Team of people planning and working together over schematics

We offer master planning, interior design and architecture, access consultancy and inclusive design training services to design more inclusive hospitals, assisted living, care and nursing homes, housing, towns and cities, clinical settings for elderly living and people living with cognitive, physical and/or sensory deficits.

Research has shown that early design intervention supports cognitive function, independence and improves the standard of health and well being for the individual while reducing operational and care costs.

Poor design results in accelerated cognitive and functional decline and increased health and care costs.

Our work is outcomes focused, evidence based and truly person centric.

The houses of the Oireachtas

Greg and Fiona Walsh after presenting to the houses of the Oireachtas at Lenister House, Ireland on how to design more inclusive buildings for adults and children with cognitive and/or sensory impairments. Pictured with Senator Joan Freeman, Prof Ian Robertson and Prof Sean Kennelly

Why do we believe that this service is needed?

Department of Health, Capital Investment Programme pilots have demonstrated a marked improvement to the quality of life for people with dementia, their families and the people who care for them. Specifically, the pilots have witnessed: – a reduction in slips, trips and falls; – a lessening of aggressive, challenging behaviour and the need for antipsychotic medications; – improved sleeping and eating habits; and – better participation and interaction between dementia sufferers and people around them.


Fiona Walsh
Principal Architect

Fiona Walsh B.Arch FRIAI RIBA ARB Senior Atlantic Fellow in Brain Health, Global Brain Health Institute is a practicing chartered architect of distinction holding two Fellowships, one in architecture and one in neuroscience/ brain health. Fiona has combined this knowledge to advance the understanding of how to design better and more operational efficient buildings, that support senior living and people living with cognitive and sensory deficits.

Her work has been published in the Lancet Neurology and the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. She has written audit reports and community design guides for the National Dementia Office, Ireland and blogs on design for Alzheimer’s Disease International. She is an international speaker on inclusive design and dedicates much of her time to advocacy work creating awareness of the importance of inclusive design in supporting cognitive and functional abilities.

Fiona co-founded www.ddsarchitects.org that specialises in designing inclusive environments: master planning, access consultancy, interior architecture and design.


Fiona’s LinkedIn

Greg Walsh
Managing Director

Greg Walsh BA(Hons)Bus. Studies, Dip.Bus.Mgt, Atlantic Fellow Global Brain Health Institute, has 20+ years working in the healthcare sector, for US multi-nationals in senior roles including European Vice President and General Manager based in Switzerland, US and Canada. He has worked in partnership with patients, governments, health authorities and physicians with great success, resulting in better patient decision making, improved clinical outcomes and lower health system costs. In 2018, Greg was made an Atlantic Fellow of the Global Brain Health Institute (www.gbhi.org) for his work in dementia design. In 2019, Greg completed a residential Atlantic Fellowship in brain health with the GBHI in Trinity College Dublin and UCSF, San Francisco. Greg lobby’s governments and global bodies to incorporate dementia design into national dementia strategy.


Greg’s LinkedIn

Because it works: Case study:

Ms E on arrival (to a dementia enabled residential care home) was confused, low in self-esteem, agitated, verbally abusive towards other residents, less interactive and refuses to wear nice clothes. After a week or two she engaged with the staff especially when she sees a male staff member that gives her the urge to talk about her past partner and the good times they had together. This makes her feel special and encourage her to dress up in nice clothes with matching accessories and make up. She has since started going on outdoor activities with other residents.