Better housing design will help older Australians to stay home longer

AT HOME: According to RMIT researchers, about 1.3 million older Australians need help with their everyday activities, yet only two thirds have those needs met. Photo - Shutterstock.
AT HOME: According to RMIT researchers, about 1.3 million older Australians need help with their everyday activities, yet only two thirds have those needs met. Photo - Shutterstock.

For older people to stay home longer and have greater independence pragmatic housing design is vital, according to new research.

A new report by RMIT researchers has investigated how the home influences the need for and the quality of home care services.

The report surveyed over 100 caregivers, of which more than 90 per cent believe current home design impacts on their capacity to deliver and affects the time spent on care services provided in residential homes.

Drawing on the experiences of care providers, both paid and family, the report identified step-free entrances, wide corridors, hobless showers and ground-level toilets as the most important features needed for senior citizens to age well in their own homes.

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Sinclair, from the RMIT School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, said the findings should encourage home buyers to think about their future needs and the features their homes should have to support ageing at home.

"Current government aged care expenditure is close to $20 billion and is expected to increase to $25 billion by 2023, with nearly two-thirds of that spending on residential care.

"We need to reconsider the features we want in our homes that support health and independence as we age, to minimise the need for external care."

Sinclair says caregivers unanimously agreed that current home design can hinder their support to elderly and vulnerable citizens.

Better designed housing features included:

  • step-free entrances and easy entry from parking spaces
  • wider internal doors and corridors
  • hobless shower recess
  • reinforced bathroom and toilet walls with grab rails installed where needed
  • ground level toilet
  • non-slip flooring and lever taps

"Any housing design features that make everyday tasks easier to complete and support seniors to age well in their home reduces the need for, the level of, and the time spent on care delivery," Sinclair said.

This story Age care must be built on better housing design first appeared on Port Macquarie News.