Residential aged care is not usually a choice but a last resort. We all need better housing options in later life.
Long term care, nursing homes, residential care are all names for care in a facility dedicated to supporting older adults. But how many people desire this option? Usually it is a place of last resort because staying put is no longer an option. But can we do better than this?
A report from Canada looks at the issues of long term care, ageing in place with a brief mention universal design. The 14 page document takes a Canadian perspective of international solutions and options which are all specialist solutions.
The first recommendation is to encourage alternatives to long term care. The alternative recommendation is to develop housing and care models that incorporate universal design features into new builds. The second recommendation focuses on support services.
The report discusses seven different types of housing, five of which are based on segregation by age. Here is a brief overview:
Current housing options
Independent Living /Active Lifestyle Accommodation is for adults requiring minimal assistance. They are either detached homes or suites within apartment buildings. These solutions are best when offered within the existing neighbourhood.
Assistive Living / Supportive Housing is designed to provide safe and accessible homes for people needing personal care and housekeeping services.
Retirement Living homes are usually privately owned and suit older adults in the higher income brackets. This option suits older adults with higher incomes.
Co-housing consists of private dwellings with kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and shared common areas such as gardens and walkways. This model is not exclusively for older adults and offers connectedness as well as privacy.
Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) develop overtime due to older adults remaining in their own homes as they age. This model is aimed at helping older adults to live as independently as possible. The concept of NORCs originated in the US.
Villages are member-based, grassroots organizations developed and governed by older adults in the US. Villages provide free and discounted services and staff and volunteers coordinate activities. This model helps reduce the risk of social isolation.
Intergenerational housing is the fastest growing housing arrangement in Canada. A diverse range of individuals of different ages live together and share life experiences and skills. Multigenerational housing encourages older adults to remain engaged in the community.
The report concludes with additional resources and references.
The title of the report is Housing & Care Models to Support Older Adults to Remain in Their Communities.
Editor’s note: Universal design features for housing will be in the new edition of the National Construction Code. The features are basic and we have yet to see when industry and state governments will implement them.