The Story of A Queen, Dementia and IKEA
We continue our series looking at innovations in dementia care with the story of Queen Silvia of Sweden, who joined forces with the home-furnishing giant IKEA to design dementia-friendly, prefab homes that could soon appear in the UK
BoKlok is an accommodation concept developed jointly by Skanska and IKEA which, as you might expect, aims to provide highly functional homes at a fraction of the cost. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad was passionate about making it easier for those with dementia to live as independently as possible in their own home. Before he passed away, he made a large donation to Queen Silvia’s dementia charity Silviahemmet, which she set up following her own experiences of caring for her elderly mother, Alice de Toledo Somerlath. Silvia teamed up with IKEA, and BoKlok, to work on an affordable housing solution for those with memory loss and dementia.
The initiative, known as SilviaBo, has built its first homes in Stockholm. Those with lower incomes pay what they can afford after taxes and living expenses, with costs being driven down by the high-volume, functional approach we have come to associate with IKEA. Silvia was personally involved in designing the homes (and housing complexes), which include a variety of features such as extra-wide doorways, fitted kitchen appliances with old-fashioned knobs, colored elements in bathrooms, shower screens designed to allow a carer to lean over without being splashed, in-built support rails and pre-fab ‘safe’ furniture designs, as well as therapeutic gardens and clubhouses to encourage residents to socialise and spend time outdoors.
The venture controls the entire supply chain, from negotiating land acquisition through to production and on-site assembly, neatly integrating the inputs from those with expertise in dementia care and those with the commercial knowhow to make this a low-cost and rapidly scalable housing solution.
By 2040, nearly one in four Swedes will be 65 years or older. Like many countries, including the U.K., the issue of how to look after an ageing population is becoming increasingly important. Working on collaborative solutions with industry may provide a pragmatic approach for managing the housing crisis amongst a population that are increasingly expected to field a greater proportion of the cost of their own care.
IKEA is synonymous with pragmatism, and the SilviaBo experiment is one we will be watching with interest.
Please note that the views expressed here are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of any other person or organisation.