Supporting a Sense of Belonging

Categories: Ask an Expert, Care Partners, Research|By |Published On: |

People’s sense of belonging improves when their living environment better meets individual needs.

This article was written by a guest contributor, and the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author.

A new resource guide, Supporting Comfort and Belonging for People Living with Dementia, is now available from the Schlegel - UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA). Written by Laura Aguiar B.A.Sc. & G. Allen Power M.D., Schlegel Chair in Dementia Innovation, the guide was created to support team members in assessing senior living environments and discussing opportunities to create a sense of comfort and belonging for people living with dementia, particularly those who repeatedly attempt to exit.

Most important is that the vast majority of suggestions were low-cost, low-inconvenience modifications, such as rearranging seating or putting a dimmer switch on room lights. The team felt that this was a highly valuable resource to help them understand the interplay between people and their environment.

– Dr. Al Power

The guide may also be helpful to care partners and families supporting people with dementia at home, and can be used in all living environments, whether people living with dementia are living separately or alongside people without dementia and in either secured or unsecured living areas.

Good design for dementia is good design for people.

– Emi Kiyota, PhD

It is important to help create feelings of comfort and belonging in one’s living environment. People’s sense of belonging improves when their living environment better meets individual needs.

"The features of this guide that make it quite useful and somewhat unique are: (1) it is meant to be used by the care team, along with residents as able, so it reflects the knowledge and experience of those who live and work in the space, (2) it can be used in dementia-specific or integrated living areas, (3)  it looks beyond physical attributes, to address such areas as sensory changes with aging and dementia, unmet needs, challenges to well-being, and operational and interpersonal interactions within the space, and (4) it can be broken into sections and used in huddles or care conferences--with applications to either individual situations or the population in general, and has guidance for crafting action plans" notes co-author Dr. Al Power.


Learn more and download the guide at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) website: