Newly opened Aged Care Facilities showcase benefits of designing for Dementia

Leading Western Australian landscape architecture practice, PLAN E, successfully implemented its fourth aged care project for 2018.

Regis Woodlands (completed January), Koh I Noor Wembley (March), Regis Hollywood (June), and Opal Carine (July) are the latest in PLAN E Landscape Architect’s portfolio of health and aged care projects, founded on unique considerations of accessibility, aesthetics, comfort and functionality.

PLAN E Associate Landscape Architect Jo Olive describes the benefits of a well-designed dementia courtyard.

“Gardens designed specifically for people with dementia are known to have a range of therapeutic benefits and can often help reduce symptoms associated with dementia,” said Mrs Olive.

Stimulating the senses, encouraging the use of motor skills, and providing areas for social interaction are an important part of landscape design for aged care.


A view of a beautiful garden can be appreciated from inside; however, a successful dementia courtyard will inspire residents to leave the comfort of indoors to engage with the landscape and benefit from its therapeutic opportunities.

Creating comfortable spaces that feel safe, familiar, and that are easily navigated is key to motivating residents to take the first step outside. Once outside, water features, sculptures, plantings and other points of interest encourage residents to wander and explore. Providing shaded seating at regular intervals makes the space comfortable to use, and encourages residents to spend longer in the garden.

“Including opportunities for meaningful activity is an important component of the design,” Mrs Olive said.

Activities such as pottering in the garden, tinkering in the shed, watering plants, sweeping paths, hanging out washing, and other activities related to everyday tasks give residents a sense of purpose.


Mrs Olive advises that courtyard spaces should include raised garden beds, tool sheds, clotheslines and other amenities to enable residents to participate in daily activities that they enjoy and are familiar with. Encouraging this participation boosts quality of life and creates opportunities for socialisation.


Plant selection complements a well-structured courtyard design. Using a variety of plants stimulates the senses through colour, scent, taste, texture and seasonal change, and is known to enhance the wellbeing of people with dementia. The choice of plants can evoke a sense of familiarity, trigger memories, and also provide a focal point for discussion and social interaction.

“The importance of a well-designed dementia courtyard should not be under estimated,” Mrs Olive concludes.