The Government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge mission has a target of allowing people to enjoy five more years of healthy, independent living by 2035. By that time, one in five people in the UK will be over 65 years old or over and it is estimated by the Office of National Statistics that almost a half of the working age population will have some form of long-term health condition.
As we spend most of our time indoors, and much of that in the home, the provision of a healthy, safe, age friendly home environments are vital to the Government’s grand challenge aspirations. This is the reason why future homes that are age friendly and promote inclusive living is such an important part of the Home of 2030 design competition.
To achieve this, we need more innovative home designs, and the housing supply and financial models that support continued access to employment and health care in later life. We need better connectivity in homes and communities to help overcome isolation and loneliness.
Most of existing current UK housing stock, however, already fails to meet simple accessibility standards, and there is a startling statistic that illness and injuries caused by poor housing costs the NHS £1.4 billion per year in England for first-year treatment costs (The Full Cost of Poor Housing, 2016).
The Home of 2030 competition, therefore, needs designers and housing providers to think creatively and develop a home designs that will help tackle this. We need to address the gap in the housing market for new homes which appeal to and cater for a variety of age groups – with homes that are more adaptable to changing uses and needs over a lifetime.
What could an ‘age friendly’ and inclusive home design look like? This could encompass a number of different attributes. A well designed and attractive place that functions well for a range of lifestyles, creating a sense of place in a community. The provision and interaction of shared facilities, space and management to support social interaction and community cohesion. Perhaps a flexibility of design with the provision for adapting to changing occupancy needs over time and allow easier maintenance.
Employment and continued employment in later life should also be considered. The future labour market is expected to be significantly shaped by the emergence of technology-led interconnectivity, and what better opportunity to encourage flexible working and employment opportunities as we grow older.
The Home of 2030 design competition will go live in February 2020. More details will be released on the Home of 2030 website shortly. You can Register Your Interest to receive updates.