Home designs and independent living

An older woman sits in an armchair. She is wearing a purple knitted jacket and is smiling into the camera. She needs home design for independent living.Our homes have to work for us – all of us. COVID has highlighted how important this is. But do our current home designs support independent living and all home-based activities for the whole household? Probably not. 

The Conversation has a timely article on how home design liberates people with disability or long term health condition and improves their quality of life. It is written in the context of the Australian Government’s housing stimulus package. The title of the article is, Renovations as stimulus? Home modifications can do so much more to transform people’s lives. The bottom line is that designs that increase independence, significantly decrease care hours and improve quality of life. 

The campaign

The Australian Network for Universal Housing Design has campaigned for universal design features in all new homes. Their 20 years of advocacy has resulted in the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for accessible housing. In April 2021 the Building Ministers’ Meeting agreed to mandate Silver level for all new housing. These changes are to take effect from September 2022. However, not all states agreed to implement these changes. So the campaign goes non

Currently, the community currently bears the cost of not having universal design features in our homes. Early entry to aged care, carers not being able to do paid work, increased falls, longer times in hospital, and the list goes on.  And the features are good for everyone – it’s not special.

A home has to support people studying, working, doing a hobby, exercise or just needing a quiet space. And let’s not forget our personal care, household chores and maintenance. It also has to suit people caring for others – family members or paid staff.