Built Infrastructure for Older People in Conditions of Climate Change (BIOPICCC)

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of the Built Environment

Abstract

SummaryThe functioning of health and social care systems and infrastructures supporting them is likely to be influenced by climate change, especially increasing frequency and severity of weather-related hazards such as floods, heat waves and storms. Recent experience of extreme climatic events had significant repercussions for health of older people. People aged over 65 years comprise a growing proportion of the total population in the UK. Thus we face a major challenge concerning how to adapt infrastructures, essential for health and social systems serving the older age group, to impacts of a changing climate. This project will focus on this challenge. The project is aimed to develop a methodology for selecting efficient adaptation strategies during the period up to 2050 to ensure that the infrastructures and health and social care systems supporting well-being of older people (i.e., those aged 65 and over) will be sufficiently resilient to withstand harmful impacts of climate change. This will be achieved with active engagement of stakeholders and demonstrated through case studies. The problem is complex involving climate change, socio-demographic trends, and infrastructure performance, therefore the research will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team from Durham University and Heriot Watt University, combining expertise in engineering, climate modelling, and health and health care research and expertise from University of Newcastle, Australia. The programme of work will be divided into five stages:Stage 1 - Identification of areas most at risk from climate change related hazards;Stage 2 - Identification of study communities with high concentrations of older people and a range of socio-economic conditions, in urban and rural settings;Stage 3 - Identification of key elements of health and social care systems and built infrastructures in selected study sites;Stage 4 - Identification of design and management solutions including a probabilistic evaluation of their life-cycle costs to improve resilience of health/social care systems and related infrastructures; andStage 5 - Dissemination: knowledge exchange on adaptation strategies, building local capacity and risk mitigation strategies.We will also draw on an extensive international network of advisors representing a wide variety of stakeholder groups. By focusing especially on infrastructure that is important for older people, considering rural as well as urban settings, and involving stakeholders as participants in the research as well as users of the results, our project complements and extends other recent studies on impacts of climate change funded by ESRC and EPSRC. We will aim for local, national and international dissemination of our research findings, in accessible formats, to key informants, stakeholders, and international experts. Although our practical recommendations will have local relevance in our study areas, the methodology which will be developed is general and can be applied to other identified areas across the UK, where similar conditions may apply. The approach and general aspects of the strategies we develop will also have international relevance to for planning and policy and for academic debates about the social and physical determinants of risk.
 
Description The research has used the latest 'weather generator' (UKCP09) to map and interpret the locally variable hazards, vulnerabilities and risks of extreme weather related events. Maps for England showing regional variability in projected heatwaves, coldwaves and flooding hazards have been produced in relation to vulnerability associated with projected demographic trends in ageing population.

We have investigated the complex, and locally variable, human and built infrastructure systems supporting older people's care, and the ways that these are affected by extreme weather events in two case study areas. The findings have been interpreted using theories about complexity and social relations.

An infrastructure model have been developed to represent the key physical infrastructure systems supplying resources (electricity, gas, water, etc.), infrastructure assets associated with consumption of the resources (care homes, hospitals, residential buildings, etc.), as well as the flow of the resources between them.The model has been implemented for the case study areas. A flood model has been calibrated for the case study areas to predict the extent of this weather related hazard; the model has been combined with the infrastructure model. Using the models and other data collected in the project we have explored how human, social and organisational systems interact with built infrastructure and how these may need to be adapted in our case study areas in the future.

Based on this work we have developed tools designed for practical use in adaptation planning and refined these in light of feedback from stakeholders. The lessons learned from this research have informed local adaptation planning in our two case study areas and have also fed into the national adaptation guidance being produced by government bodies including the NHS Sustainability Unit, Defra and the Cabinet Office Community Resilience Unit.
Exploitation Route Strategies used in this research are very relevant to the implementation of the National Adaptation Plan in response to projected climate change, especially in terms of putting this plan into action at the local level. We have developed the BIOPICCC online toolkit, which provides an accessible source of information and guidance on the approaches we have used and their relevance to local adaptation and resilience

http://www.dur.ac.uk/geography/research/researchprojects/biopiccc/tookit

We are arranging for this to be accessed via the government Cabinet Office Community Resilience Unit in London. The research in this project has been directly engaged with a range of stakeholders including partners in two local authority areas in England. We have held a number of briefings, consultations and feedback meetings with them leading to the production of plain language reports for our collaborators in the case study areas supporting the adaptation planning locally. The reports are available on the project website. We have explored with our partners how these might also be used.

The project team took the lead in coordinating, with support from ARCC, three dissemination meetings in London, Durham and Utrech (Netherlands) for stakeholders particular interested in outputs from the BIOPICCC project and its sister projects in the ARCC network related to health and social care services and infrastructure. We continue to contribute to ongoing ARCC events.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment

URL http://www.dur.ac.uk/geography/research/researchprojects/biopiccc
 
Description BIOPICCC dissemination and networking events involved liaison with 6 local authorities and with the Environment Agency who provided feedback on the prototype BIOPICCC toolkit. We have held consultations and feedback meetings with partners in our two case study areas and produced bespoke reports on our research for their local use. The findings from the BIOPICCC study are also helping to shape the development of policy in these areas. Two of the local authorities with which we have engaged have used this experience with BIOPICCC to put forward bids to fund further work in this field that they would carry forward independently.
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description First BIOPICCC Dissemination and Networking Event (King's College London, Waterloo Campus, London, October 2011) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The team presentations sparked questions and useful discussions.

This event brought together representatives of 6 local authorities and the Environment Agency to present the prototype toolkits for local action for adaptation to climate change and share ideas for good practice in this field. The report of this meeting is posted on the BIOPICCC website at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/geography/research/researchprojects/biopiccc/publications/reports_for_stakeholders/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Meeting with a district council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/parliamentarians
Results and Impact The presentation sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

The council members confirmed their interest in the project and supported further collaboration with the project team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Meetings with locals authorities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact These were consulations and feedback meetings with the project partners, in which we presented the main outcomes of our research. Our presentations were followed by questions and discussions.

The findings from the BIOPICCC study helped to shape the development of policy in these areas. Two of the local authorities with which we had been engaged used the experience with BIOPICCC to put forward bids to fund further work in this field that they would carry forward independently.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012