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Housing design: accessible, multi-generational, ‘age-proofed’ or simply ‘fit for purpose’?

Written by Angela May Published: 10 July 2019 

Accessible housing- it’s the latest hot topic. But are we using the right terminology?

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Latest research-from the Centre for Ageing Better- illustrated an interesting point: more than a quarter of 18-34 year olds said they would be encouraged to buy a home with accessible features. They want an age-proof home, that enables people to live an active and fulfilling life whatever their situation. It compliments findings from a YouGov survey in which nearly three-quarters of people polled said homes should, as standard, be built to be suitable for all ages and abilities.

The key ‘Lifetime Homes’ criteria are not difficult nor expensive to provide- such as level access, walk-in showers, doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, a structure that can bear the load of a future addition of a track hoist.

Bathroom design is key to achieving homes that are fit for a lifetime, that are accessible, age-friendly, age-proofed, multi-generational, or whatever other terminology is chosen. The bathroom is the room that, more than any other, is adapted as the occupant’s ability to live independently deteriorates. The toilet is the one fixture that, more than any other element of the room, is changed.

That’s not really a surprise when you consider that going to the toilet accounts for the largest proportion of time spent in the bathroom.

It’s one small element, but an element that has a major impact on our dignity, hygiene, wellbeing. Think about it, how would you feel if you can’t get on, off, wipe your bottom on your own?

Fortunately from a design perspective, manufacturers of devices for disabled people are realising that aesthetics matter. So it’s now possible to specify a fixture that is suitable for everyone, that enables the occupant(s), regardless of age or ability, to live in their home, do all the things we do therein, without compromising on aspirational style.

So, even if it takes time for accessible housing- or whatever terminology is decided upon- to become ‘the norm’, the forward thinking architect, designer, housebuilder, developer can still, with little effort, create a home that is just that- somewhere people can live, irrespective of age, ability.

As I’ve said before, we’ve managed to address the need for affordable homes. Let’s commit to achieving the same with accessible homes, to build homes for life.

Closomat Limited, Building 1, Brooklands Place, Brooklands Road, Sale Cheshire, M33 3SD