Homes have to be de­signed to help us grow old grace­fully

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Ric Blenkharn

WITH the num­ber of over-60year-olds pro­jected to in­crease by seven mil­lion over the next 25 years, and much of the UK’s ex­ist­ing hous­ing stock in­ac­ces­si­ble or un­suit­able, the lack of good qual­ity homes for older peo­ple is a real concern.

If we are to achieve a bal­anced so­ci­ety, then we need to cre­ate places where peo­ple of all ages, live, work and play in close prox­im­ity to one an­other.

If peo­ple are forced by cir­cum­stance to leave their own homes, then fre­quently, they move into large res­i­den­tial blocks, cut off from main­stream so­ci­ety.

You will see these blocks on the edges of many towns and cities. Typ­i­cally, they ac­com­mo­date around 50 or 60 couples or sin­gles, each with their own small apart­ment ac­cessed from a long dark cor­ri­dor.

Peo­ple of­ten feel trapped and re­mote from the ev­ery­day world in these build­ings, which are con­structed this way largely for eco­nomic rea­sons re­lated to the lev­els of in-house care, rather than to pro­duce a pleas­ant en­vi­ron­ment in which to live.

How re­fresh­ing it would be to see smaller de­vel­op­ments cater­ing for the el­derly and sited next to shops, li­braries, com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties and other tenures of hous­ing.

Imag­ine oc­cu­pants hav­ing ready phys­i­cal and vis­ual ac­cess to the passer-by, where they can en­gage in the nec­es­sary daily chit chat of life. Such hous­ing could form part of mixe­duse de­vel­op­ments, per­haps oc­cu­py­ing the lower storey of gen­eral apart­ment blocks.

Maybe a sense of be­long­ing to a wider com­mu­nity, would en­cour­age in­ter­ac­tion and well-be­ing. A happy per­son, is gen­er­ally a healthy per­son.

These is­sues were looked at in de­tail with the re­cent HAPPI Re­port [Hous­ing our Age­ing Pop­u­la­tion Panel for In­no­va­tion]. Good de­sign al­lows older peo­ple to stay at home for longer, avoid­ing falls and re­lated treat­ment.

In designing new build­ings, we can al­low for ease of move­ment, in­cor­po­rat­ing the prin­ci­ples of Life­time Homes, pi­o­neered by The Rown­tree Foun­da­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, cur­rent gov­ern­ment think­ing seems to in­di­cate that leg­is­la­tion to make this hap­pen is not nec­es­sary and hous­ing should be left to a mar­ket force to de­ter­mine. It is not a good recipe.

Leg­is­la­tion for size and ac­cess within dwellings is of para­mount im­por­tance, if we are to build hous­ing stock ca­pa­ble of chang­ing to suit an age­ing pop­u­la­tion. HAPPI rec­om­mended spe­cific com­po­nents for the de­sign of hous­ing for older peo­ple that mir­ror the in­ter­nal do­mes­tic en­vi­ron­ment of the hous­ing in­dus­try in Europe, where apart­ment homes are a con­ven­tional part of ur­ban cul­ture.

In Europe, older peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence the ben­e­fits of greater se­cu­rity and less main­te­nance, and en­joy the con­vivi­al­ity of shared space.

Homes for older peo­ple should be at the heart of ex­ist­ing places and com­mu­ni­ties. The re­port con­cluded with four im­por­tant is­sues:

The time has come for a na­tional ef­fort to build the homes that will meet our needs and as­pi­ra­tions as we all grow older; we should all plan ahead pos­i­tively, cre­at­ing de­mand for bet­ter choice through a greater range of hous­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties; hous­ing for older peo­ple should be­come an ex­em­plar for main­stream hous­ing, and meet higher de­sign stan­dards for space and qual­ity; lo­cal plan­ning authorities should play a key role to en­sure de­liv­ery of de­sir­able hous­ing in great places, tuned to lo­cal need and de­mand.

These is­sues de­mand na­tional leg­is­la­tion, care from de­sign­ers and in­clu­sive think­ing from care sup­port agen­cies and the lo­cal authorities. They are not dif­fi­cult is­sues to solve.

Per­haps then, we may have the fa­cil­ity to grow old grace­fully

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.