Recommendations to promote healthy housing for a sustainable and equitable future
Improved housing conditions can save lives, prevent disease, increase quality of life, reduce poverty, and help mitigate climate change. Housing is becoming increasingly important to health in light of urban growth, ageing populations and climate change.
The WHO Housing and health guidelines bring together the most recent evidence to provide practical recommendations to reduce the health burden due to unsafe and substandard housing.
The Age-Friendly Basque Country Project has produced a Guide to Friendly Housing. The aim is to offer simple and useful information that can be used to assess older individuals needs and give advice for the adaptation of the home. The Guide is divided into sections according to the rooms that structure the house (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living room, etc.) and includes advice and recommendations per room type.
A Guide to Friendly Housing is available as a PDF file online in Spanish and Basque.
After years of housing policy focused on first-time buyers, the RIBA is now calling on ministers to make it mandatory for all new homes to be accessible for older and disabled people, for councils to allocate sites for “age-friendly” housing and for estate agents to clearly label accessible housing in marketing materials.
Europe is ageing. Action is needed at all governance levels to review the way our society is organized and create a fair and sustainable society for all ages. The “Healthy ageing in cities and regions” workshop will uncover why some ageing policies have been more successful than others and help cities and regions tap into the potential that older people present while also overcoming some of the constraints and challenges that urban environments often pose on older residents.
This workshop will take its participants through inspiring examples on how to enhance healthy ageing and develop age- friendly cities and communities. It will also be an opportunity to discuss the success factors and barriers as well as to provide local and regional authorities with recommendations.
My name is Frans Sengers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. I’m a researcher in the Homes4Life project and responsible for the innovation analysis. So far I have visited France and Poland and interviewed stakeholders who are involved in very innovative pilot projects. These pilots are experimental places that provide a glimpse into what an age-friendly home might look like in the not too distant future. I want to share a few interesting examples of these pilots.
In the Polish capital Warsaw there is a very interesting model apartment designed by specialized architects. The initiators of project, the Mimo Wieku foundation, are convinced that independent living and self-care are the way to foster activity and self-esteem, and hence a longer and healthier life. The apartment is furnished with many innovative age-friendly products, such as a fall-breaking shower curtain and a wheelchair-friendly kitchen. These new products by various international companies are the individual parts that are showcased in the apartment and each of these solutions could become commonplace in a future age-friendly home. The Warsaw showroom apartment is a real innovation, not because of the individual products, but because of the synergy between all these products. In this way the whole apartment is more than the sum of its parts (see picture 1).
On the other side of the river Vistula, east of the center of Warsaw, lies Praga district. This district is being revitalized and this offers an interesting opportunity to experiment with the age-friendly retrofit of old style buildings. One old 19th century building on Stalowa 29 (both address and name of the project) is currently being readied as an intergenerational house. In such a place old and young will be living together so that they can support each other and learn from each other (see picture 2).
In Nice, in southern France, there is the ambition to turn the city and surrounding region into a world reference site for ageing and health related innovation. The region boosts an impressive innovation eco-system that supports many successful start-ups. An example is the company Nively, which is designing a smart monitoring system that can detect anomalies in movement patterns – such as a fall – and send out an alert. These innovative companies and their activities are supported by a number of public organizations and this all comes together in a hub called 27 Delvalle, which represents the ultimate place to meet, test and disseminate of age-friendly innovation (see picture 3)
Sixty-four experts on active and healthy ageing from 16 European countries (plus Australia), represented the diversity of stakeholders in the standardisation field. Eleven high-level experts on Active and Healthy Ageing and on standardisation facilitated the discussion with the audience members on age-friendly communities as enablers of Active and Healthy Ageing; on inclusiveness in standardisation, taking accessibility and usability as a use case; and on age-friendly smart homes as a tool for independent living.
A panel of expert on age-friendly smart homes had a roundtable. Mr. Frederic Lievens (Telehealth Quality Group, PROGRESSIVE) moderated the panel of experts on age-friendly smart homes, comprised by:
Ms Sara Casaccia, Post Doc – Università Politecnica delle Marche, Homes4Life project
Ms Julia Wadoux, Policy Coordinator for Health, ICT and Accessibility, AGE Platform Europe (Homes4Life partner)
Ms Lydia Vogt, Project Manager, DIN, PROGRESSIVE.
Ms Sara Casaccia (Università Politecnica delle Marche, Homes4Life project),presentedthe Homes4Life project. Homes4Life will develop a European certification scheme for ageing in place. This European Certification Scheme will be based on an inspirational and realistic long-term vision at 2040 of people’s needs and requirements. It will integrate construction and digital solutions when this is beneficial to do so, -it will be flexible in addressing the specificities of each country, and it will be compliant with both new and existing buildings.
Homes4Life coordinator TECNALIA – Silvia Urra Uriarte – presented the project at the ITE+3R congress, an event focused on buildings and urban refurbishment and sustainability, held in March 2019 in Leon, Spain.
Homes4Life was presented within the Round Table 1: The human profile in the retrofitting and urban regeneration interventions. The video (in Spanish) of the roundtable can be watched here.