Environmental assessment tools


New Environmental Assessment Tool 'Is your garden dementia friendly?' now available

The Association for Dementia Studies has developed a new environmental assessment tool for gardens and outdoor spaces.

Outdoor spaces have assumed greater importance especially in providing safe spaces for patients, residents and visitors to meet during the pandemic. Although there are a wide variety of gardens and outdoor spaces across the health and care estate, our research and evidence from trials of the tool indicate that the principles of designing gardens for people living with dementia are common across all care sectors. We have therefore developed a generic tool for hospitals, care homes and specialist and assisted housing. 

The tool follows the same format as The King’s Fund/University of Worcester 2020 environmental assessment tools and it is hoped that the tool will also be of use to organisations who are designing gardens and outdoor spaces for people with cognitive impairments or neurodiversity. We are grateful to those who have contributed to the development of the tool and to the University of Worcester for their support. 

Accessing the environmental assessment tools

There are now six versions of the environmental assessment tools available, according to which setting you would like to explore.  

  • Care home assessment tool
  • Housing assessment tool
  • Health centre assessment tool
  • Hospital assessment tool
  • Ward assessment tool
  • Gardens assessment tool

To give you a flavour of what to expect, you can download a sample of one of the tools.

**To download a copy of any of these tools, including the new gardens assessment tool, please click here.**

Related resources


We have developed a new booklet to make your garden dementia friendly. This is formatted as a booklet, so please choose this option if you print a copy. You may also find this 'My home, my garden story' a useful resource.

You can also access the Alzheimer's Society website to find out more information on how to make your home dementia friendly

We have also worked with Community First in Herefordshire and Worcestershire to develop a free guide and checklist to make village halls dementia friendly.  

Background to the development of the tools


In 2014 The King’s Fund developed a suite of dementia friendly environmental assessment tools for use across health and care settings. These were updated by the Association for Dementia Studies, University of Worcester in 2020 to reflect the latest research evidence, best practice and survey responses from those who have used the tools in practice.

We are most grateful to The King’s Fund for their permission to update the tools, to the University of Worcester for funding the updates, and to the many people and organisations who have kindly given of their time to assist in the development of the 2020 editions. 

Why the tools were developed originally

In response to the Dementia Strategy and the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, The King’s Fund developed a suite of dementia friendly assessment tools for use in care settings. These comprised care homes, housing, health centres, hospitals and wards. In conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Society, a booklet based on the assessment tools was designed to help people living at home with dementia make changes to their accommodation.

The first assessment tool for the ward environment was developed in collaboration with NHS trusts participating in The King's Fund enhancing the Healing Environment (EHE) programme. Since then over 70 care organisations have been involved in field testing the tools. The tools have been informed by research evidence, best practice and over 300 survey responses from those who have used the tools in practice. Each of the sections draws on this evidence to develop a rationale for effecting change in care environments. These rationales also address the visuospatial problems often associated with dementia.

You can read more about the tools in the article: The Development of Environmental Assessment Tools to support the creation of dementia friendly care environments: Innovative Practice, by Sarah Waller, Abigail Masterson and Simon Evans 2016.

To view the bibliographies from the work carried out in 2014 and 2020 please click here.