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Physical environment

2017: Standards for Residential Care Facilities

The physical environment of the residential care facility

Overall, residential care facilities need to comply with the general legal requirements for buildings and hygiene, safety and fire regulations.

Design and layout

In addition to these, several countries have specific requirements related to the design and layout of residential care facilities (please see table 7 for details).

Furthermore, in Belgium (Flanders), Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the UK (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) requirements exist related to the location of the premises which should facilitate that residents enjoy a social life in the community and receive visits, examples of this include:

  • Location which is appropriate or close to urban areas, or easily accessible,
  • Existence of public transport,
  • Existence of car parking spaces for residents, visitors and staff.

Table 7: Requirements for the physical environment

The building should be of sound construction and kept in good state of repair. The furniture and decoration should be appropriate.

Belgium (Flanders), Croatia, Ireland, Malta, Spain, UK (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

The physical environment should be as homely and comfortable as possible.

Belgium (Flanders), Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, UK (Scotland).

The premises / furniture / equipment have to be suited to needs of all residents (including residents with specific needs) and the design and layout suitable for its stated purpose.


Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, UK.

The design and layout should help to promote the wellbeing of the residents.

Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, UK (Scotland).

The design and layout should help to ensure that residents live in safe surroundings.

Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, UK (England and Scotland).

All areas in the premises meet the privacy and dignity of each resident.

Belgium (Flanders), Finland, Ireland, Spain, Slovenia, UK (England and Scotland).

The building should be accessible.




It should be clearly signed and arranged to minimise confusion and promote independence of residents with cognitive impairment / dementia (e.g. find their way around easily).

Belgium (Flanders), Czech Republic, Finland, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland.


Croatia, Germany (Baden-Württemberg[23]), Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, UK England, UK Scotland (in guidance).


[23] Standards for the federal state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany.






Last Updated: Friday 31 January 2020


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    This Dementia in Europe Yearbook received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020). The content of the Yearbook represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.
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