Published On: Wed, Mar 18th, 2020

Homes for an ageing population offer a growing market opportunity

‘Smart tech will play a central role in home design for older occupants’

According to the Office for National Statistics, one in four people in the UK will be over 65 by 2037, with “ongoing advances in technology, healthcare and lifestyles”, meaning we are living longer than ever before. GlobalData’s construction writer Ellen Daniel says: “Not only will this present new challenges for the health and social care sphere, it will also mean that providing housing for this growing group, which is both suitable for a range of needs while being a desirable place to live, presents a new opportunity for the world of planning and designing.

“The UK is currently facing a housing crisis, with 8.4 million people in England living in “unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes”, according to the National Housing Federation. Those over 65 live in a third of all dwellings, meaning better provision of housing for the over 65s could offer benefits across society. Although designing accommodation for the over 65s may involve many of the same design principles that go into creating homes for any age group, there are a number of additional considerations that must be taken into account.

“Ensuring that the space caters for varying levels of mobility is key, with the additional space required for wheelchairs, the removal of tripping hazards and ensuring that outdoor and communal spaces are accessible to all being primary design considerations. As well as varying levels of mobility, design must account for residents with other conditions such as dementia that may make finding their way around a building challenging. Different colour schemes for each floor or careful planning of the building’s layout are some ways to achieve this.

“Integrating care facilities into design not only helps individuals, but also the community as a whole. Research by the ExtraCare Charitable Trust suggests that those living in their properties with provided care save the NHS an average of £1,994 per resident. Looking to the future, it is likely that smart technology will continue to play an increasingly central role in home design, particularly for older occupants. A report by the Urban Land Institute predicts that “future passive monitoring is likely to encompass simple systems like detecting when the shower, kettle or cooker has been used to monitor the health and wellbeing of a resident”, meaning that incorporating an even greater level of technology into planning will be a design challenge for architectural firms moving forward.”