Applying universal design principles to existing homes

Front cover of proceedings of the 2014 conference in Lund SwedenPhillippa Carnemolla’s paper presented at the 2014 UD Conference in Lund, Sweden is titled: The potential of a home modification strategy – a universal design approach to existing housing. The conclusions of this somewhat technical study are based on the lack of accessible mainstream housing supply and the desire for people to age in their current home. “In conclusion the research suggests that home modifications informed by Universal design principles can support the changing social needs of Australia’s ageing populations by meeting the complex, multi layered and individual needs of older people as they continue to age and provide an opportunity to impact wellbeing, caregiving, independence, safety and security.”

Abstract: The significance of home modifications for ageing populations extends beyond the physical modification of an existing home. This paper discusses the potential for home modifications to impact the process of ageing well. Home modifications apply Universal Design Principles in the targeted and restricted setting of an existing home environment. There is evidence to suggest that home modifications operate on dual levels – addressing broader societal concerns about accessible housing and care demand, while concurrently addressing the individual needs of older people who want to age well in their own home. This paper refers to preliminary findings of an ongoing research project investigating the value of home modifications. It uses a mixed method approach (AQoL utility scoring and thematic analysis) to analyse survey responses from home modification recipients (n=89). Preliminary findings reveal an increase in utility scores following home modifications, this increase in health related quality of life is further supported by the thematic analysis. These results are discussed in terms of the dual role that home modifications play in responding to individual needs and broader society and reinforce that home modifications play a variety of roles in supporting ageing well at home that extend beyond the physical environment. In conclusion, the research supports and contributes to developing evidence that home modifications have the  potential to support the changing social needs of Australia’s ageing populations in ageing well by impacting health related quality of life and improving feelings of independence, and safety/confidence.

You can find all the open access papers from the Lund conference, Universal Design 2014: Three days of Creativity and Diversity.