While some retirees will seek a sea change to resort-style living, others want to stay connected to their families and established neighbourhoods. Some might even be thinking about planning renovations to make staying put easier. A place in the country sounds ideal, but is it the right choice?
An article in Aged Care Insitecritiques the age-restricted model of villages. It asks if this is a sustainable model into the future. The article was written in 2018 and shows foresight given today’s issues with aged care. Many of the current issues are discussed and the author, Susan Mathews questions if this is the right way forward.
Mathews proposes alternatives, one of which is flexibility of design across the housing market so that people can receive care at home when it is needed. This fits with the principles of universal design as outlined in the Livable Housing Design Guidelinesat Gold level. Other key points are inter-generational interaction, connectivity, inclusion, and proximity to conveniences. A good article from an architect’s perspective. The title of the article is Aged Care in the urban context: what’s missing?
Retirement living has to factor pandemics into design now. Separation rather than isolation is the key. Much of the value of specialist retirement living is the easy access to amenities and socialisation. But the pandemic put a stop to both. The constant reminder that older people are more vulnerable to the infection was the last straw. Especially as everyone fell into the vulnerable category. Consequently, everyone got isolated from each other. But how to design for this?
Australian Ageing Agenda has an article discussing these issues. If residents have to stay home for prolonged periods, they will likely demand more space. Pocket neighbourhoods could work so that only a section needs to be cordoned off. Other ideas are:
Converting utility rooms in residential aged care to provide sleeping cubicles for staff to stay overnight
Architects and designers working with materials that are either antimicrobial or easily cleaned
Better air filtration and purification, possibly driven by future changes in air-quality codes
More high-tech senior-living communities with virtual socialisation, technology support and clear communication systems in place so residents can ask questions and feel more comfortable
Technology that allows residents to navigate communities without pressing buttons or grabbing handles
Facilitation of in-person visits during times of outbreaks via a dedicated clean room
The Longevity Revolution along with the recent pandemic is asking questions about aged care and retirement living. Can we keep doing the same? The short answer is no, but what to do instead?
A report from an architectural group reviews the literature and makes some strategic suggestions for the future. The research looked at how the market can re-align itself to the aspirations of upcoming ageing generations. As we know from previous research, it isn’t looking like retirement villages, and there’s a preference for aged care at home.
The costs of aged care are discussed at length. Consequently, affordable strategies are needed for both older people and for government.
Using models from overseas they suggest serviced apartments, communal flats and co-housing. Multi-generational living is presented as a new idea. It is premised on the notion that people will be happy to move when their current home no longer suits. We already have multi-generational living in our existing neighbourhoods. The homes just aren’t accessible for everyone at every age. Nevertheless, the researchers eschew the notion of mandatory universal design standards in dwellings.
The report returns to the notion of specialised housing products for older people and talks of being able to convert “normal dwellings” to enable home care. The multi-generational neighbourhood model is presented as a combination of different housing options where young and old exchange services.
The title of the report is Aged Care in Australia and argues for the market to create new and sustainable ideas. It was prepared by Architectural Research Consultancy for Carabott Holt Architects.
Editor’s note: Researchers claim the Productivity Commission supports voluntary uptake of universal design standards, not regulation (see p.4). Nevertheless, the Productivity Commission recognises, “The Australian Government should develop building design standards for residential housing that meet the access and mobility needs of older people.” (See the Summary of Proposals.) The PC report goes back to 2011 when Livable Housing Australia was set up to lead a voluntary roll out of UD features in housing. As we know, this has not worked.