Better home design reduces care hours

A bathroom has been stripped out and a few builders tools lay about on the floor. The bath is laying on its side. So why don’t we design homes for longevity in the first place? These findings are from a study by Phillippa Carnemolla, and there is more to this story. People felt more independent and enjoyed improved quality of life. This had a positive impact on their general health as well. There is more to discover in Carnemolla’s paper and it supports the need for all new homes to have basic access features included.

The title of the paper is, How Home Modifications Impact Ageing Well at Home: Supporting a Lasting Housing Legacy. It was published in Proceedings of the 5th International Conference for Universal Design in Fukushima & Tokyo 2014. Hence the reference in the Abstract to the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Games.

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published an update in 2019. The Title is, Housing Design and Community Care: How Home Modifications Reduce Care Needs of Older People and People with Disability

Here is Phillippa’s Three Minute Thesis video giving the bottom line.


A lasting legacy of all Olympic and Commonwealth games is their athletes villages. This paper discusses the potential for home modifications to support the process of ageing well that builds on this housing legacy and as such points to the benefits to be gained from both wider uptake of universal design in housing plus attention to special adaptations as needed.

In the context of Australia’s ageing population, ageing well can encompass a number of different housing and care models, however common to all of these is a drive to maintain quality of life levels.

There is evidence to suggest that home modifications impact recipients in a number of overlapping ways, by increasing independence within the home, increasing social participation and enabling people to remain in their own homes for longer as they age.

This paper refers to completed stage one findings (Levels 1, 2 and 3) of an ongoing research project investigating the value of home modifications. It uses a mixed method approach and thematic analysis of survey responses from home modification recipients (n=157). This research design enables the measurement of the impact of home modifications to housing and resulting changes to care giving needs.

The survey results reveal a decrease in reported care hours needed following home modifications, a trend which is further supported by the thematic analysis. In conclusion, the research contributes to developing evidence that home modifications can have a measurable impact on the care needs of recipients and support the changing social needs of ageing populations in ageing well.

Dr Phillippa Carnemolla is a Director of CUDA. 


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