Helping older people live independently for longer

With an ageing demographic, and a growing number in the UK living with dementia, building science centre, BRE, has created a new demonstrator home – ‘Chris and Sally’s House – the Living with Dementia Home’, to showcase how housing adaptation can support those living with dementia. It is hoped that the ‘demonstrator’, representing a ‘two up, two down’ Victorian terrace, and co-developed with partners over a three-year period on the BRE Innovation Park in Watford, will inform the design of future buildings to help people with dementia live independently in their own homes for longer. The Network’s editor, Jonathan Baillie, reports from an ‘open day’.

Explaining the context to the development and construction of the new ‘demonstrator home’, which was officially opened on 4 July last year, a few months prior to November’s open day, by Lord Richard Best OBE, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing & Care for Older People, BRE says: ”Changing demographics, an ageing population, growing pressures on health and social care services, and a national housing shortage, make for an interesting mix of challenges which touch all elements of society and industry sectors. This has led to greater focus being placed on designing, refurbishing, and creating dwellings that can support occupants at every stage of their lives, and through illness and changes that are part of the ageing process.” Most will be aware that with an ageing population worldwide, dementia is a growing issue. Estimates suggest that there are already around 850,000 people in the UK living with the condition – 70-80% of whom continue to live in their own homes. BRE adds: “With one million people predicted to be living with dementia in the UK by 2025, this is a trend which requires some careful thought in how we develop homes, communities, and towns.” Against this backdrop, in 2015 BRE was approached by Dr Rob MacDonald of Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), and Bill Halsall of architectural practice, Halsall Lloyd Partnership


(HLP), to harness the outcome of ‘Design for Dementia’, a set of principles created through Dementia Innovate-funded research to enable people with dementia to live more independently in their own home.

Consultation workshop held After holding a consultation workshop with dementia stakeholders – including carers, the health and social care system, housing groups, and government – BRE committed to take the principles and apply them to a real house to enable the outcomes to be shared. To do this it brought together a number of partners, and, with support from the BRE Trust and Loughborough University, and continued input from HLP and a broad spectrum of product and technology suppliers, set out to develop a demonstration home on the BRE Innovation Park ‘to present evidence-based design, adaptation, and support solutions, which allow people to age well at home’.

Dr Rob MacDonald (top) of Liverpool John Moores University, and Bill Halsall of architectural practice, Halsall Lloyd Partnership.

Adapted for different types of dementia The 80 m2 house – which attendees at the open afternoon and seminar at BRE’s Innovation Park in November were able to tour following the presentations – has been adapted to cater for different types and stages of dementia. The demonstrator home is very much an ongoing project – with plans to further refine and embed

An exploded view of the design for Chris & Sally’s House.

new adaptations and assistive technologies into the house as they emerge. BRE adds: “The outcome will create a platform for sharing knowledge between dementia stakeholders – including the healthcare system, the construction industry, and people with dementia and their carers – specifically around improving health, wellness, and mental health. It will also provide a common vision of what good practice looks like, to enable informed conversations, resulting in better outcomes.” The house’s lower floor has been adapted for early onset dementia, and to be future-proofed against the need for


©Halsall Lloyd Partnership

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