Rethinking Design’s Contribution to Assisted Living Environments

Stage One: Best Practice Discussion Paper


Funded by

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

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).

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