A ‘salutogenic’ approach is one that focuses on factors that support health and wellbeing, beyond a more traditional, ‘pathogenic’ focus on risk and problems. This approach is widely used around the world – in health, education, workplaces, architectural design – and we believe it has enormous relevance in dementia care
‘Salutogenesis’ means ‘sources of health’ from the Latin word ‘salus’ (health) and the Greek word ‘genesis’ (source). Sociologist Aaron Antonovsky coined the term in 1968 to explain why some people manage to live well even when subject to extreme stress or illness. He described three conditions as being necessary to live as full a life as possible:
Comprehensibility: the experience of making sense of one’s own context, life story and current circumstances.
Manageability the experience of managing day-to-day physical realities; staying warm, dry, clean, rested and nourished.
Meaningfulness the foundation of the desire to live; a belief that things in life are interesting, satisfying and worthwhile.
Salutogenesis, a new approach in dementia care
A salutogenic approach is about finding opportunities for people with dementia to live as full a life as possible.
With almost half a million Australians living with dementia, including more than 50 per cent of residents in government funded aged care, a new approach is needed.
There are many examples of aged care providers making changes to help residents engage and find meaning:
Play areas for visiting children
Opportunities to peel vegetables in kitchens
Tinker in garden sheds
A mural to look at instead of a brick wall
Video: Salutogenic Approaches For Dementia – Jan Golembiewski PhD
Dr Jan Golembiewski BFA, BArch, MArch, RAIA, PhD Director, Psychological Design Registered Architect
Jan is one of DTA’s content experts. As an architect, Jan has a passion for designing environments that support “best life possible” for people, especially those living with dementia.
In the news
Read about DTA’s approach to salutogenesis and dementia care
Architecture and healthcare: looking into salutogenic design
Salutogenic design, more commonly known as dementia-friendly design, is a catch-all term easily described as design that makes life better for those with dementia. The science behind the idea that architecture can affect a person’s health is relatively new, as is the theory of dementia design.
What gives our lives meaning is different for every one of us. For some it may be caring for children or grandchildren, for others making an impact in a chosen profession, or studying history, travelling, singing in a choir, getting one’s hands dirty in the garden, swimming in the ocean. DTA Executive Director Professor Richard Fleming writes for HelloCare.
At Be The Change 2017 we asked you to look at our dementia timeline and reflect on your own experience in the care of people with dementia over the last 30 years. Then we asked what you want to see in the future.
Our offices will be closed from Monday 23 December 2019, and reopen Monday 6 January 2020. Certificates for online courses will not be issued during this time.
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