Home building standards in the UK have mandated basic access features in all new homes since 1999 (Part M of the building code). More recently there has been a move to improve on this with a new standard, Lifetime Homes. This is because the original Part M* requirements only allow for visitability and not liveability. With an ageing population it has become apparent that a higher level of accessibility is needed if people are to remain independent in their own homes. The 2013 review by Hadjri and Craig, Assessing Lifetime Homes Standards and Part M Building Regulations for Housing Design in the UK, provides some parallels to the issues we experience in Australia and the current voluntary implementation of accessible housing in Australia.
Extract from the abstract: “The aims of this article are to examine Lifetime Home Standards (LTHS) and Part M of the UK Building Regulations and to discuss how relevant and successful they are. The UK government expects all new homes to be built to LTHS by 2013. This is increasingly important with an ageing population. The home environment can enable independence and provide a therapeutic place for everyone. … This review suggests that the standards should be improved and that designers and architects face challenges to creatively incorporate them into housing design.”
Note: The Australian Network for Universal Housing Design advocates for Gold Level of the Livable Housing Australia Guidelines, which allows for ageing in place and future adaptations for people with increased disability. Margaret Ward, Convener of ANUHD, recently attended a hearing of the inquiry into outcomes of the National Disability Strategy and spoke about the issues in Australian housing and why regulation is needed.
*You can read more about the updated Part M (2016) and the three conditions from the UK Architects’ Journal, and you can download the UK Government document about dwellings (Category 1: Visitable, Category 2: Accessible and adaptable, and Category 3: Wheelchair user dwellings). Only category one is mandated for all new dwellings, the other categories are “optional requirements” and can be called up by a planning authority.
A new study from Griffith University looks at the issues of inclusive housing and neighbourhood design and the features required to include people with higher health care needs. The title is, What housing features should inform the development of housing solutions for adults with neurological disability?: A systematic review of the literature.
Abstract: Despite the recent emphasis in Australian political, academic, and legislative narratives to more actively promote real housing choice for people with high healthcare and support needs, there is a lack of understanding regarding the specific housing features that might constitute better housing solutions for this population. Inclusive housing provision in Australia rightly emphasises safety and accessibility issues but often fails to incorporate factors related to broader psychosocial elements of housing such as dwelling location, neighbourhood quality, and overall design. While the importance of these broader elements appears obvious, it is not yet clear what specific housing features relate to these elements and how they might contribute to housing solutions for people with high healthcare and support needs. For individuals with complex neurological conditions such as brain injury or cerebral palsy, who require maximum support on a daily basis yet want to live independently and away from a primary care hospital or health facility, a more detailed understanding of the housing features that might influence design and development is needed. Thus, in order to clarify the broader factors related to housing solutions for this population, a systematic review was conducted to identify and synthesise the current research evidence (post-2003) and guide future housing design and development opportunities.
You can also access this article through Research Gate
A comprehensive study of home design for ageing in place by Swedish researcher Roya Bamzar provides good design guidance for modifications of existing apartments and new builds. Using the seven principles of universal design in the case study, Bamzar assesses the main rooms in the home: bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room. The safety features that accrue through applying UD are an important factor in reducing accidents and falls, as well as providing greater convenience and useability. Bamzar has used the 1997 original principles of universal design as a metric, but this may not be the most useful guide to measuring outcomes in this case. However, this is an important study in the area of specialised senior housing design and how modifications can improve safety, use of space, and quality of life. Over-furnishing, as shown in the picture, is a problem for many older people who are attached to their belongings and can cause difficulties for moving around the home.
The title of the article is: Assessing the safety and quality of the indoor environment of senior housing: a Swedish case study.
This paper is one of four as a result of Roya Bamzar’s doctoral thesis.
Architectural solution to sustainable, affordable and community-focused living in Melbourne, Jeremy McLeod of Breathe Architecture presents the Nightingale model.
Between urban compression and urban sprawl, Jeremy suggests an architecture of reduction, which provides moderation of these housing models. Using architecture as a catalyst to engage and generate interaction, Nightingale supports communication and community. Jeremy also explains how they side-stepped the property developer control of design and put it back in the hands of architects.
Through a triple bottom line approach – financial return, sustainable and liveable, Jeremy’s vision provides a universal design approach to the housing product.
Watch Jeremy’s TEDxStKilda talk below:
The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing invites organisations to complete her survey. Governments, human rights institutions, organisations and networks, including organisations of persons with disability, and other relevant stakeholders, are encouraged to share contributions and inputs for her report. She welcomes information on innovative approaches and successful programmatic and legislative initiatives as well. The survey questionnaire can be accessed in English, French and Spanish by going to the webpage to download in Word or PDF.
There does not seem to be an Easy English version. There are 8 questions – below are the first three:
- Please explain how the right to housing of persons with disabilities is guaranteed in domestic law, including constitutional provisions and human rights legislation.
- Please provide any useful statistical indicators, analysis or reports regarding housing condition of persons with disabilities, the extent of homelessness and discrimination, (including failure to provide reasonable accommodation) in the private or public sectors. Please also provide references to any documentation (written, visual or otherwise) of the lived experiences of the housing conditions of people with disabilities.
- Please provide data on the number of persons with disabilities living in residential institutions and relevant information on the progress towards developing or implementing deinstitutionalisation strategies to facilitate a sustained transition from institutions to community based living arrangements.