Every lighting catalogue boasts a ‘circadian’ option. But examples of successful businesses investing in a truly ‘human centred’ lighting solution are vanishingly rare. Perhaps not surprising. None of the standards demand it.
Evidence is patchy and inconsistent. And a tunable light source is just an expensive gadget if it’s stuck in the same place as the old one, the controls don’t work and the rest of the environment is as dingy and stressful as it always was.
I’m lucky enough to be working with two remarkable teams who are bucking the trend. Both in the Residential Care sector, both facing a perfect storm of rising demand, staff shortages and tight budgets. Both passionate about the human and financial benefits of offering supported living at a human scale in local communities where friends and families can stay in touch. They’re just 12 times zones apart!
I’m currently the guest of the Northern Health Authority in Canada (where I saw a real live bear on the way to work…) We’re working together on a truly human-centred supported living facility in a rural town called Vanderhoof, the geographical heart of British Columbia.
The ground floor of this affordable housing block right in the centre of town is dedicated to those living with early stage dementia. The other two floors are designed to welcome older people on low incomes. This integrated model has led to a budding romance and to some other unexpected consequences: as these senior citizens are more visible in the town, other facilities are being upgraded to welcome them – from repairing the pavements and ramps to access the weekly farmer’s market to investing in a disabled swing in the park next door.What’s special about this place is that the human-centred lighting is part of a truly human-centred approach. There is light at the end of the tunnel after all!