Housing associations call for new approach to design of homes

THE Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has called on a new design concept to be adopted for homes which would aim to meet people’s physical and social needs throughout their lives.

The call comes following research by SFHA into the concept of inclusive living and design approaches in the social housing sector. The approach would see all homes in the sector designed for all ages and ability – removing physical and social barriers to inclusion through design, encouraging intergenerational communities and increasing social cohesion. The blueprint also aims to help people live longer in their own homes, which SFHA said could lead to savings in other public spending areas such as the NHS.

The research found that certain current design features, which are found in affordable homes that have been designed for people with a particular need, could be included as standard. For example, homes designed for people with dementia include plugs fitted at a higher level. SFHA said that designing homes to have this as standard would create safer homes for people who are growing older as well as families with small children.

Dr Vikki McCall, of the University of Stirling and the study’s lead, said, “Through inclusive design, we can create homes that are suitable for everyone. There are simple current practices that we can start to incorporate into all housing design in order to future proof our housing to be suitable for all ages and abilities.

“We need to rethink developments that add on accessibility and ask why we are not starting with making our homes and environment as accessible as possible as a long-term strategy – with a population that is living longer than before, this has never been more important.”

Lorna Wilson, SFHA head of policy and innovation, added, “This research has come at a time when there are calls being made for home and place design standards to be reviewed in light of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Inclusive living moves beyond just the design of the home; it considers the importance of community places and services and creates opportunities for social, cultural, and economic participation. By working in partnership with our members and key stakeholders, we can provide the types of homes and communities that meet the physical and social needs of everyone – now and in the future.

“SFHA is calling for the next Scottish Government to commit to reviewing the current Housing for Varying Needs Standard and to carrying out a study with housing associations to examine the feasibility of mainstreaming standards of accessibility through inclusive design.”