Rethinking Design’s Contribution to Assisted Living Environments

Stage One: Best Practice Discussion Paper

Rethinking Design’s Contribution to Assisted Living Environments

* screen resolution (12 MB)
* print resolution (101 MB)

This discussion paper investigates the contribution that good design can bring to improving living environments and the quality of life for people with disabilities. It does this by analysing a selection of high quality design local and international ‘best practice’ case studies. This research will be used as an evidence base for the next stage of the project, which will generate practical, replicable design strategies for future retrofitted and new housing developments.

One of the aims of this paper is to consider how to bring together the approaches of tailored, architectural spatial design with the, physical accessibility and functionality approaches of ‘Universal Design’. By combining both approaches, it is possible to embrace the complexity of living environments of people with disabilities. Such an approach, can create a ‘dignity-enabling home environment’ (Gibson, B. Secker, B. Rolfe, D. Wagner, F. Parke, B. Mistry, B. (2012) Disability and dignity-enabling home environments, Social Science & Medicine) where a concept of social dignity underpins any evaluation of what might be judged as ‘adequate’. Working from the scale of an individual room through to the wider urban realm, this paper makes a bridge between best practice architecture/urban design and the user experience to create a holistic approach to supported living.

This discussion paper is part of the research project ‘Effective design strategies to improve accommodation outcomes for spinal cord injury (SCI) and acquired brain injury (ABI) users. This paper has two inter-connected streams of research: the first one is building an evidence base (this paper) and the second stage is applying this knowledge into the development of replicable design strategies (to be completed).

Professor Nigel Bertram
Deborah Rowe
Catherine Murphy
Holly Board
Byron Meyer

Funded by
Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR)
Transport Accident Commission (TAC)

View report here (PDF, 12.3MB)

monash-urban-lab-rethinking-design’s-contribution-to-assisted-living-environments-1Heinrich-Böll-Platz, Cologne
An accessible built environment does not have to always have to be a ‘specialist’ one. There are many instances where spaces can be designed that will be of benefit to many in the community, including those with a disability.
Designer: Dani Karavan
Photo: Deborah Rowe

Alexander Miller Home, Highton
The focus of accessible home design is often concentrated on entry points and the interior of the building; however accessible outdoor spaces are just as important.
Architect: Allen Kong
Photo: Byron Meyer

Koglerne Resident Anders with Manager Lars Holmgren
“You can do the best design in the world but if you have the wrong model of care, it won’t work” – Helen Small, General Operations Manager, Wintringham and Wintringham Housing
Designer: Vandkunsten Architects
Photo: Deborah Rowe

Jones Bathroom
“The benefits of the design have been huge, and unfortunately often overlooked when managing someone with a disability. As well as being a nice space for me to be in ... support staff (have said) they enjoy coming here too. She receives better care as a result of this design.” – Peter Jones* discussing the benefits good quality design have on his wife Marie*
Architect: Lucy Jones*
Photo: Jonathan Butler
*names changed

Sankt Antonius Community Building
“Living here means I am still part of the city life. I’m not stuck on some corner of the city where I would need someone to drive me to get groceries, I can do it by myself and that’s really important. I am free to plan my own day. I don’t need to depend on anybody to help me do anything. It’s about quality of life.” – Sankt Antonius resident
Architect: Lederer Ragnarsdóttir Oei
Photo: Deborah Rowe

Tully Bathroom
“For someone with a disability (the bathroom) really matters, because it is a room they have to spend a lot of time in” – Peter Jones*, full time carer for wife Marie*
Architect: Harrison and White
Photo: Ben Hosking
*names changed