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ACCESSIBILITY 25


EMBEDDING ACCESSIBILITY


As the population ages and the number of people living with disabilities increases, it is crucial that developers incorporate accessibility into properties now to prepare for the future. The kitchen, says Stuart Reynolds of AKW, is the ideal place to start.


in England’s struggling housing market, facing mounting pressure to build more properties to accommodate for the growing UK population, but they are also trying to meet the increasingly diverse require- ments of a demographic that is both ageing and changing.


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People aged 65 years or older made up 17.8 per cent of the UK’s population in 2015, and by 2045 that figure is expected to have grown to nearly a quarter. Old age can also trigger a number of debilitating condi- tions, meaning the number of older disabled people is likely to increase by about 40 per cent between 2002 and 2022, placing even greater strains on housing. Additionally, it is not just the number of older people living with impairments that is forecast to rise. The proportion of children and young people who are disabled is antic- ipated to grow to more than 1.25 million by 2029, and disability among those in their 50s is estimated to increase from 43 per cent in 2004 to 58 per cent in 2020. Most worrying, however, is the fact that despite the projected increase in disability, only 12 per cent of properties are likely to be truly accessible by 2020, the vast major- ity of homes predicted to fall short of the Lifetime Homes Standard and BS 9266:2013. There is also a shortage of


APPROPRIATELY DESIGNED HOMES CAN ENHANCE WELLBEING AND INDEPENDENCE, AS WELL AS REDUCE THE DEMAND ON HEALTH AND CARE SERVICES


WWW.HBDONLINE.CO.UK


here are challenging times for the UK housebuilding sector. Not only are developers trying to operate


homes that are specifically designed with disabled people’s varying needs in mind. In fact, 15 per cent of households with one or more disabled residents currently feel their home is not suitable.


Appropriately designed homes can enhance wellbeing and independence, as well as reduce the demand on health and care services. As a result, it is vital that the housebuilding sector meets the changing


demand for properties, both by ensuring new developments are accessible, and adapting existing housing stock. With regards to the latter, even small changes to one room at a time can dramati- cally increase its accessibility. The kitchen is often considered to be the heart of a home, and adaptations to make kitchens more welcoming and understandable can substantially improve the ease with which day-to-day tasks can be performed by the disabled and elderly.


When creating an accessible kitchen, it is important to understand that the end result can look very different from one user’s home to another, in line with their unique needs. There are, however, a few key design principles that apply regardless of individual requirements. The room must be inclusive to ensure comfort for multiple users with various abilities, it needs to be convenient, responsive and flexible to changing needs over time and, above all, it needs to be safe, protecting all residents within a home.


The process of achieving these goals begins with assessing each user’s needs and this can be done by asking questions during the design stage. It is critical to determine the physical and cognitive


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