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INTERIORS


107 The offsite route to accessibility


Chris Sutton from On the Level discusses the challenge of delivering accessible living for an ageing population, and the benefits of offsite bathroom construction


We all welcome the opportunity to live longer, yet with improved longevity comes the pressure to provide appropriate and accessible living space for older people. From care home beds to specialist social housing, adapting existing homes to building granny flats, we are struggling to deliver enough bespoke accommodation to meet the requirements of the older generation. How might offsite construction and modular pods help speed up delivery, while offering better quality and more accessible spaces for our ageing demographic?


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Our population is definitely ageing. According to the Office for National Statistics, by 2066 there will be an additional 8.6 million people aged 65 years and over – a population roughly the size of London. In 2016, people over 85 accounted for just 2 per cent of the population, but fast forward 50 years and that is forecast to rocket to 7 per cent. As we live longer, our health needs become more complex and the places we live must adapt to our changing demands. In the UK we are already struggling to provide appropriate accommodation for our existing population. As it continues to grow as well as age, how do we respond to the challenges that presents?


Many argue that Britain faces a social care crisis. Research published by Newcastle University in the Lancet medical journal last year found there will be an additional 353,000 older people with complex needs by 2025, requiring 71,000 extra care home beds. Yet this need to ramp up delivery of care home provision comes at a time when the construction industry is already under enormous pressure. A research paper by Heriot-Watt University on behalf of the National Housing Federation indicates that England faces a shortfall of four million homes and needs to build an additional 340,000 a year until 2031.


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ne of our greatest societal challenges is how we meet the needs of an ageing population.


The construction sector will struggle to meet the challenge given the skills shortages and low productivity. To provide an adequate supply of care home places in the midst of a housing crisis, it will require some radical changes.


One solution is to exploit offsite construction. The manufacture and pre-assembly of construction components within a controlled factory setting can revolutionise the provision of accessible accommodation for our ageing population. It speeds up delivery, reduces costs, minimises waste and ensures greater quality control. The Government has recognised the value of this new approach, whilst a Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) white paper revealed that 42 per cent of construction firms employing over 100 staff believe they will be using offsite methods in five years’ time.


When providing accessible residential care for older people, features such as modular pod wet rooms can bring


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A Construction Industry Board white paper revealed that 42 per cent of construction firms employing over 100 staff believe they will be using offsite methods in five years’ time


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