Most adults in later life experience some form of ill health, such as arthritis, cognitive impairment, heart problems or issues with hearing and vision.
- Most adults in later life experience some form of ill health, such as arthritis, cognitive impairment, heart problems or issues with hearing and vision.
- The problem is that the UK housing stock is nowhere near ready to cater to this need.
- And yet, there were more than 20,000 people on English local authority waiting lists for wheelchair and accessible homes.
The impact of poor housing
- And size matters: the smaller the house, the more difficult it is for those people with disabilities to move around and live fulfilled lives.
- As journalists Melissa York and Georgia Lambert put it in 2023:
Poor quality housing costs the NHS £1.4 billion a year, yet the relationship between housing and health is rarely acknowledged.
- Poor quality housing costs the NHS £1.4 billion a year, yet the relationship between housing and health is rarely acknowledged.
- Poor housing is routinely cited as a major cause.
Why we need supportive housing design
- Built environment professionals, including architects, stress the importance of reimagining housing design by establishing Part M Clause 2 (category 2) of the Building Regulations as the baseline to better support healthy ageing.
- A 90-year-old great-grandmother can live independently if her home features wide doorways, no-step entrances and a walk-in shower with grab bars.
- The John Morden Centre in Blackheath, London, illustrates how thoughtful design can support older residents’ quality of life.
- Of course, ideas need to be put into practice for them to really change the way people live.
- In construction terms, this means that supportive design needs to be enshrined in building regulations and the wider housing policy.
- Making such design regulations compulsory would see the housing industry effectively contribute to reducing the burden on the NHS and our social care system.
- Architects talk about resilient housing to describe homes that are built for the long-term with sustainable healthy ageing in mind.
Faye Sedgewick receives funding from Innovate UK and is a member of the Architects Registration Board. Paul Jones receives funding from Innovate UK, Research England, AHRC