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DESIGN FOR AN AGEING POPULATION


l Ventilation is poor, with windows hard to open.


l On sunny days there is glare and overheating.


l There is restricted headroom on the first floor.


Among the main ‘interventions’ designed into the Dementia Home to address these issues, Bill Halsall explained, are:


Ground floor l The main bedroom has an adjoining en suite bathroom designed to be fully wheelchair-accessible.


l There is wheelchair-accessible lift. (although not all such properties would feature this).


l The entrance is designed so that on entering, one can see ‘as much as possible’. Bill Halsall commented: “It’s not like you are coming into a little lobby with a door. You can immediately see the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room. The space opens out before you in a legible way.”


l The day room is ‘a flexible use space’ that, while in current configuration is laid out with a hoist, could also be used as a dining room, or a hobby room. The architect said: “The most important feature is the built-in angles of view. From the living room and day room, when the door is open, you can see directly to the toilet, giving users the confidence that they can see where they have to go.”


First floor


Moving to the first floor, and ‘Chris and Sally’s bedroom’, and Bill Halsall explained that this room design incorporates as yet unbuilt structural support for a hoist, not yet fitted. He said: “Here it was all about designing for adaptation at a later date.” He added: “The main en suite bathroom upstairs is designed to full wheelchair standards. We have also incorporated a small kitchenette, to enable a carer, for instance, to make light meals. The second bedroom is conceived as a carer’s room.” Running through the design of the Living with Dementia Home’s rooms in a little more detail using slides, Bill Halsall showed some of the other key features, beginning with the ground floor kitchen/dining room. He said: “On entering the house you can immediately see the kitchen and the living room, with the kitchen enjoying a green view through its windows. The kitchen units feature glass doors in cupboards, the fridge freezer is clearly visible as such, and the whole concept is one of walkability, i.e. while the kitchen is wheelchair-accessible, occupants can also walk around it and steady themselves on worktops, chairs, or tables.” There are both high and low-level work surfaces, and rounded corners to minimise injury from bumps and falls, as well as lift access to the first floor, to accommodate both a wheelchair and a carer. Bill Halsall added: “The other issue we addressed


16


From a policy standpoint, we believe housing and social healthcare policy should support this alternative approach to providing elderly care for the benefit of families and communities as part of an integrated approach to ageing in place


said ‘everything from the colour of the quilt, to that of the flooring’, was designed to aid visual perception. He then asked: “So what can we draw from all this?


A strong evidence base “The most obvious thing,” he said, in answer to his own question, “is that design for dementia can help people sustain their capacity and live comfortably in their own homes for longer. That’s a statement, but is something we have to prove. We have a very strong evidence base on all the features we have talked about via our collaboration with Loughborough University and Eef and her team. The design principles apply to new-build as well as refurbishment. In this instance we used refurbishment – because of the availability of the building, but also because it is representative of the challenge of how we can adapt our ageing housing stock for ageing people.”


Wider policy


The upper floor includes a bedroom for a live-in care worker.


was colour and contrast. As we age, we lose colour vision at the blue/green end of the spectrum first, so we strove to ensure good tonal colour and contrast, ensuring sufficient contrast between the floor, walls, door, kitchen unit fronts, and worktops, based on an approximate 30 point difference in light reflectance values (LRVs).”


Two-tone armchairs


Showing a slide of the living room next, Bill Halsall said it was similarly designed, with suitable light reflectance values between the various furniture items. He said: “You can see that in this iteration that we have installed ‘two-tone’ armchairs, as well as coloured leading edges on the curtains so residents can see where to pull them from.” He added: “It becomes a highly detailed design exercise.” Showing the day room, he added: “The house features multiple wheelchair positions, and, as I alluded to earlier, has a number of alternative uses.” He continued: “In designing this ground floor shower room, we encountered some conflicts, because by designing it to the existing standards it looks a bit clinical – perhaps something the sector needs to look at. The door on the left is an airing cupboard that contains the washing machine. The cupboard both isolates residents from the noise of the machine operating, and provides a convenient linen store.”


As to the master bedroom, the architect


Bill Halsall continued: “From a policy standpoint, we believe housing and social healthcare policy should support this alternative approach to providing elderly care for the benefit of families and communities as part of an integrated approach to ageing in place. That is the punchline really; it’s partly about addressing personal needs, but there is a policy agenda we also need to push – investing in housing in the right way, and making the right decisions on it, will reduce pressure on health and social services in the future.”


Dr Kelly said after Bill Halsall’s


presentation ended: “I think that in looking at the overall design and development process for the Living with Dementia Home, which has been ongoing for at least the past 12 months, Eef and Bill underemphasised the amount of detail that has gone into Chris and Sally’s House. What you will see when you visit it today is a nicely finished and laid out environment, but there is a huge amount of experience, research, and expertise, from Bill’s practice, the Loughborough team, and from Liverpool John Moores University, as well as from all the other stakeholders who have contributed, that has gone into the design. Bill’s unenviable task was to take all of that information, knowledge, and expertise, and translate it into a design solution – a hugely challenging task. “The great thing about it – when you go into the house – is that there is very little of this visible. It simply looks like someone’s house, but all of that support and research is embedded. That’s a fantastic outcome for the project.”


n APRIL 2019 | THE NETWORK


©BRE


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