An innovative architect’s plans to help people with dementia has received a boost from Go Digital Newcastle.
Roger Maier of CEAD Architects, based at the Toffee Factory in Ouseburn, is developing a process to help carers and patients take a 3D virtual tour round his buildings, all while the plans are still on the drawing board.
His Building Information Modelling (BIM) system will use software and gaming technology to create virtual 3D models of his buildings that potential residents can experience as though they were there.
Mr Maier, who has been an architect for 14 years, started the business a year ago after spotting an opportunity to make a big difference to care environment design, setting up CEAD which stands for Community Environment Architecture Delivery.
Go Digital Newcastle provided him with business advice that helped him to track down investment funding, and he also took part in the programme’s free workshops to brush up his online and digital skills.
Mr Maier said: “The effect that living space can have on dementia sufferers and their well-being is something that just can’t be overlooked.
“A well-designed space can reduce their levels of anxiety and give them a far happier experience.
“But people who commission care homes and extra care facilities sometimes struggle to visualise what designs will look like.
“So that means many architects play safe and design bland environments that can look very institutional.
“This is where the new software will contribute, in creating an environment much more suitable for dementia patients, producing a happier life experience in care homes.”
He is now seeking a technology partner to help develop the software for his system, which he believes will be unique.
“Dementia is a very individual condition that effects different people in a whole range of ways, but often there are common anxiety-inducing behaviours that a good, flexible environment can help to alleviate,” he said.
“For instance, many dementia sufferers have a tendency to wander – so you build into your design activity areas that might help to attract their attention and persuade them to pause for a while.
“Being able to ‘see’ how the facilities will look will mean we can gauge how people react to the features and adapt accordingly.”
Go Digital Newcastle’s business support programme provides free masterclasses, workshops, and one-to-one advice to eligible SMEs in Newcastle and the programme also provides connection vouchers – funded by the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme – worth up to £3,000 for local businesses, charities and SMEs to get connected to superfast broadband.
Mr Maier added: “Go Digital Newcastle has been a huge help – when you are a new business, it really makes a difference to have this kind of support.
“I used the grant to purchase two tablets for the immersive dementia care environment experience and enhanced graphics capabilities for quick, high-quality renderings of my projects.”