An application of Lighting Control Systems in Dementia care environments

Carelux Image

Control systems are usually thought of as complicated for the end user to operate. With advancing control protocols, the user interface can now be very easy to understand.

The control philosophy has been determined with the staff and patients in mind along with the technology available.

The lighting controls for a Dementia ward should have the following:

  • Easy to understand and use by the patient
  • Should not look out of place to the patient
  • Easy to use by clinical staff
  • Dynamic control should be centralised
  • Fully programmable for different times of year
  • Local control of colour change


The main lighting consists of a dynamic lighting system providing a gentle change in colour temperature and intensity through the day. The system should have a function to over-ride the main lighting to a constant on state as well as an off state for when the room is not in use. The colour change wall should be easy to use and be capable of producing static colours as well as slow cycling changes, incorporating a function for over-ride to off.

Circadian Rhythm

A circadian rhythm is a biological process, which, in humans, affects various aspects of the body, for instance, alertness, blood pressure, body temperature and hormone levels. A persons natural rhythm may not be exactly 24 hours so the sleep-wake rhythm may become out of phase with other circadian rhythms such as metabolic, hormonal, central nervous system or neurotransmitter rhythms. Using the CareLux system assists the body to keep the natural 24 hour sleep-wake cycle by mimicking natural daylight.

For the patients

For Dementia patients, it is as easy as a common light switch which turns the main lighting on and off, this reduces the chance of the patient not being able to understand how to use the system. It also means the aesthetics of the space and a homely environment are maintained.

Patients Switch

The left hand switch turns the dynamic lighting on and off. When switched on it goes to the pre-defined scene for the cycle of circadian rhythm currently being used for that particular time of day.

The right hand switch turns the dynamic lighting on to give a pre-described level on the bed. Acting as an over-ride to turn the fittings on to a working level. This means there is always a way of instantly turning the main lighting on, providing the need for operational lighting in case of an emergency situation.

Ease of use by clinical staff

The type of control for the clinical staff depends on the size of installation. The dynamic lighting is always controlled from the switch in the bedrooms (as described above).

For a small system comprising of one or two rooms, the nursing staff have an 8 button control plate for control of the colour wall in each area. This has a set of preset colours as well as a couple of sequences.

DDC924 Touch Screen

For a larger installation, where control from a nurse base is required, we can offer a touch screen mounted at the nurse base. This can have multiple pages graphically represented, each page can have functions for each ward. The touch screen can be set up so the clinical staff can find it demonstrated on the screen easy to understand and use. This means the clinical staff do not have to remember which button does what as it tells them on the screen.

Centralised control

The control system relies on a central advanced router system. All the programmed scenes for the dynamic lighting are stored centrally so the whole system is synchronised. All the timing information and daylight saving settings are also stored centrally. The router could also be linked in to the hospital data network to allow for remote access in case the system needs to be updated or modified.

DDC920 Router

Using a DALI system has a disadvantage in this situation due to the fade rate written in the IEC protocol guidelines of 90 seconds. As the dynamic lighting is to change at a much slower rate than this, another protocol must be introduced. We have introduced a network based around the RS485 protocol which can give a fade rate of up to 46 hours.

Apollo Lighting can provide a control solution suitable for your particular application. From a simple presence detector to a system covering mulitiple building with interfacing to a Building Management System.


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