How better design can facilitate mobility, connectivity & wellbeing for older people: a participatory approach to design research.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Architectural Studies

Abstract

In common with many other nations, people in the UK are living longer and having fewer children. This means that older people are making up a larger proportion of the population. Compared to most other age-groups, we know that older people tend to spend more of their time at home and rely heavily on local facilities and services but the design and management of housing and the wider neighbourhood sometimes creates barriers to older people's capacity to live independently and enjoy a good quality of life. One of the Government's priorities is to help older people lead independent and fulfilling lives where they can stay in their own homes and neighbourhoods for as long as possible. This involves supporting older people to stay mobile to help them remain connected to friends, families, communities and local services. Some research has already been carried out into housing design for older people, but less is known about how people move from within their homes to the outside neighbourhood and the problems they experience when they are trying to move around their neighbourhood environments. This three year research project will try to understand how the design and management of housing and neighbourhoods can be improved to better support the mobility of older people and their participation in community life.

Working in partnership with older people and professionals , the research aims to develop a number of prototype designs for housing and neighbourhoods that better facilitate older people's mobility. It also aims to improve professionals' abilities to design, develop and manage age-friendly places. Through a cycle of consultation, design, testing and further consultation, the researchers will develop solutions that meet the needs of occupiers and those tasked with managing housing and the wider neighbourhood. Considering barriers to mobility in the home, street and neighbourhood, the research will help to provide an understanding of how older people can improve their mobility when moving from one space to another and it will create an appropriate range of designs that work together to create a seamless, age-friendly environment. As well as working closely with older people and, in some cases, their carers, the team will work with a range of professionals who design and develop housing and neighbourhoods, as well as with those who manage the built environment and provide services for older people.

The project is mainly concerned with both the design of newly built housing and the surrounding environment and the re-fitting of existing housing and neighbourhoods. The team are focusing the research on standard housing, rather than care homes for older people, as this will help to meet the needs of older people who wish to remain in their own homes.

Sheffield provides a good location for learning about the needs of older people and testing design work. It is a city with a range of neighbourhoods which vary in terms of their income levels, tenancies and the respective opportunities and challenges presented by their physical and built environments. It also has a single local authority which is responsible for the management of housing, development, provision of care services and environmental maintenance across the city. The research team will work with three neighbourhoods in Sheffield. Each neighbourhood has some land allocated for building new housing where it will be possible to test the prototype designs.

The research team has a lot of experience in the design and planning of living environments for older people and we have specific skills in Architecture, Landscape, Town Planning and Public Health.

Planned Impact

The Project seeks to engage users throughout the research to create a sound evidence base, test designs and policies with key stakeholders and disseminate findings. It seeks to do this in six ways:

1. Recruiting a range of groups involved in using, designing, and managing housing and neighbourhoods through an online survey and focus groups of older people, a professional project Advisory Group, and ongoing liaison with professionals through the case study
2. Improving processes for design and development professionals through implementing exemplary practices and procedures
3. Influencing policy networks through connecting design to wider local authority activities, using case study work with Sheffield City Council. Findings will be disseminated through briefing papers for policy makers and managers
4. Engaging academic debate through attendance at academic conferences, academic input to the Final Conference, publication of papers design Prototypes in academic journals
5. Creating a publicly accessible online web presence
6. Influencing and improving standards by demonstrating excellence in design & specification through the Prototype designs and publishing them in industry journals.

Modes of Engaging with Users
- Advisory Group formed of experts and stakeholder representatives, including professional institutes, will meet every year during the project and assist in disseminating findings through their networks. Letters of Support from key members are attached
- Online Survey of Older People will seek initial user group evaluations of key mobility concerns and respond to design suggestions. As Project Partner UK Online will provide access to 3,800 community-based online centres jointly with Age UK, allowing the project to advertise and recruit a broad selection of older people (Year 1)
- Case Study of Sheffield: Focus Groups of Older People and On-site walks to provide key evaluation of designs. Older people will be recruited via existing networks including Sheffield 50+Group, Dementia Friendly Communities & Community Assemblies. Additionally, UK Online Centres in Sheffield will provide further routes to recruiting older people (Years 1-2)
- Case Study of Sheffield: Focus Groups and Project Meetings with Local Authority Officers, 3rd Sector Groups and Housing Developers will be used to engage with ongoing work of Sheffield City Council, produce design briefs, test design Prototypes and evaluate their potential for implementation. Participants will be recruited through Sheffield City Council as Project Partner and focus on 3 study areas (Years 1-3)
- Regional Workshops of professionals involved in designing, procuring, and managing homes and neighbourhoods will be held in 3 locations across the UK to evaluate design Prototypes and disseminate findings. Participants will be recruited through national networks, including professional institutes (Year 3)
- Final Conference of Key International Stakeholders will launch design guides and findings from the Project to promote debate about changes to policy and practice. Participants will be recruited through national and international networks, including professional institutes and academic networks (Year 3 +)
- Website/social media will be used to explain the research project, disseminate findings, and publish design guides and other project publications. Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn) will be used to alert users to key developments and newly published material (Years 1-3+)
- Presentations at international policy and practice conferences will enable a wide audience of academic and practitioners to discuss a range of key findings from the project. Publication in academic and industry journals (Years 2-3+).

Evaluation Metrics
1. References in policy documents to project outputs (central/local government)
2. References to project outputs in academic publications (monitored via internet search)
3. Website hits and mentions on Twitter.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Design proposals for Dore Village 
Description Our design team developed eight proposals for projects that would improve mobility for older people in the neighbourhoods of Dore, a neighbourhood in the south of Sheffield. Based on lengthy participant engagement and analysis of the problems older people have moving around the area, the loss of public space by the over-use of cars and development pressure based on its desirable sites, a number of proposals for design interventions were drawn up that addressed these issues. These were exhibited at the Dore Summer Show and the public were encouraged to vote on their preferred option. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The participant group has decided to adopt the preferred options and pursue the projects with the City Council with a view to trying to secure funding. Moreover their willingness to drive the projects forward has been an empowering experience of Big Society in action. 
URL http://dwell.group.shef.ac.uk/dwell-visions-at-dore-show/
 
Title Designs for an age-friendly neighbourhood at Sylvester Gardens 
Description Designs developed for a large site in central Sheffield. The aim was to demonstrate how an ideal multi-generational neighbourhood might look, using the knowledge and ideas generated through engagement with our city-wide group of older people. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Knowledge of how the site could be developed has drawn it to the attention of the City Council, RSLs and developers. The centre of Sheffield has had no interest from developers of older people's housing and this site has the potential to open up the marketplace for these providers. 
URL http://dwell.group.shef.ac.uk/sylvester-gardens/
 
Title Four Visions for the Future of Housing 
Description Dwell was one of four contributors exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, showcasing issues relating to housing in the UK. We produced an exhibit that recorded and a design that responded to the desires of older participants recruited as part of our project. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Viewed by a large number of people (undocumented) to the Royal Academy. Lecture associated was very well attended. 
URL https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/future-housing
 
Title Prototype designs for downsizer housing 
Description Using participatory design techniques the design team has developed prototype designs for housing and neighbourhoods that reflect the needs and desires of older people living in the city. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The designs have revealed how many developments aimed at older people are in fact realised in such a way that the interests of this user group are not actually a primary driver in design terms. We have also discovered that current legislation covering space standards is inadequate at addressing the true and longer term requirements of the older population. We have found that what forms a barrier to appropriate housing being built to address older people's needs is the marketisation of housing which makes provision of good housing in marginal areas unviable. 
URL http://dwell.group.shef.ac.uk/typologies/
 
Description We have developed a set of engagement tools that allow designers and policy makers to work with older people. We have designed neighbourhoods and dwellings suited to their needs. We have understood the policy and economic barriers to achieving these outcomes and are making recommendations as to how to overcome these. Design is at the heart of the solution.
Exploitation Route Planning policy.. Design guidance. Procurement guidance and best practice guide. A pattern book of designs. A critique of current housing provision. A critique of current approaches to the marketisation of housing.
Sectors Construction,Creative Economy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

URL http://dwell.group.shef.ac.uk/about/
 
Description The findings of this research are potentially far reaching. They show how design thinking - especially collaborative and participatory design approaches - can impact ways of thinking and doing that can be transformative. The barriers to making change occur at an institutional level, whereby those in policy and institutions act in silos without remit, imagination or authority to act across disciplines/departments. The key is to draw these threads together in order to create new insights and partnerships, which is what design does. Members of the team are attending shared workshops with participants from all research groups receiving funds under the Design for Wellbeing grant. Further, the work is becoming known by Local Authorities and groups representing older people's interests and invitations have been received to share findings.
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Creative Economy,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Transport,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Report to Sheffield City Council detailing data expected supply and demand of retirement Housing in Sheffield to 2034
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://dwell.group.shef.ac.uk/retirement-housing-sheffield/
 
Description ESRC White Rose DTP Collaborative Studentship
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 08/2021
 
Description South Cambridgeshire District Council
Amount £1,500 (GBP)
Organisation South Cambridgeshire District Council 
Start 05/2017 
End 10/2017
 
Description Sheffield City Council 
Organisation Sheffield City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We are working collaboratively with various departments of the Council to assist them in working out ways in which the built environment can contribute to delivering services, housing and neighbourhoods more effectively for older people.
Collaborator Contribution Meetings, workshops, access to data and maps, access to ongoing live projects, access to Council personnel.
Impact Stakeholder Workshop, 18.09.2014
Start Year 2014
 
Title An interactive tool for assessing different accessibility standards for UK housing 
Description The online, interactive spreadsheet allows for comparison of the many different accessibility standards for UK housing,helping the designer understand and make a judgment about the appropriate level of access required around every aspect of the home. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Not known. 
URL http://dwell.group.shef.ac.uk/access-standards/
 
Description Conference attendance: Co-production conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Raised awareness of this growing area of interest in housing design.

Adds to the awareness of co-production on offering choice and altering expectations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Conference attendance: Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Good discussion about issues around housing, especially for older people.

Agreed to keep in touch.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Conference attendance: Industries of Architecture Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Workshop raised issues around purpose and practice of regulation in the context of older people's lives.

Raised awareness among audience of issues surrounding design decision.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Conference attendance: Participatory Action Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented a paper.

Informed direction of research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Developing Age-Friendly Rural Communities Advisory Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invitation to join the Advisory Board of Developing Age-Friendly Rural Communities Project funded by NIHR School for Public Health Research, Cambridge University. Invitation arises out of work from DWELL project, and presentation at Cambridge University in November 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Dore Village Show: engagement and voting on the proposed urban strategy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Following our sessions with the Dore Group of older residents, DWELL developed six options for urban design strategies to improve mobility for older people in the village. We designed and built and exhibition of these proposals and exhibited them at the Dore Summer Show where we talked the local residents through the ideas and asked them to vote on which was their favourite option to pursue.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://dwell.group.shef.ac.uk/dore-visions/
 
Description Foxhill Forum History Project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Information gained about attitudes to place resulting form local history project.

Provided information for ongoing research informing design propositions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Presentation at British Society of Gerontology Annual Conference, 2 July 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Paper delivered entitled: "Towards envisioning mobility in later life as 'engagement with the world': an interdisciplinary approach to design" relayed the methodological basis of the project to a new audience beyond design and planning.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation of DWELL's findings to Worcestershire County Council health and planning officers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A presentation to officers of the County Council and City of Worcester officers aiming to join up health and wellbeing issues with the built environment. The emphasis at this event was on how policies and practices in the built environment could promote healthy towns and lifestyles with specific emphasis on older people and those with Dementia. Once again similar issues ere raised - how to deliver what we all know is best practice in an era of austerity and market-driven solutions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation on DWELL's findings to Calderdale Council's Housing Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Calderdale hold a Housing Forum each year to debate and inform stakeholders of their needs and intentions in the forthcoming financial calendar. This year the Authority has just completed its Local Plan which is now out for consultation. The event raised many of the same issues found by DWELL and sought solutions for them going forward. Typical issues include a growing older and younger population with a decline in taxpaying families, reduced budgets, delivery constraints, accessibility and the effects of flooding. The findings from our research were cited as providing relevant ideas for how future housing may be procured.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation to CRASSH Seminar Series 'Ageing and the City' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities, Cambridge University, 22 November 2017 entitled: 'Planning for an Ageing Society in an Era of Austerity'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/programmes/ageing-and-the-city-everyday-experiences-of-older-people-in-u...
 
Description Presentation to Housing Equality Group, Sheffield City Council, 3 September 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Report presented entitled "How can the design of housing & neighbourhoods improve the wellbeing and mobility of older people?", with A. Park. This stimulated a discussion about the potential policy outcomes of adopting an age-friendly strategy including engaging the community, in developing planning policy within the city of Sheffield.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation to Royal Town Planning Institute, Yorkshire Region Conference, 14 October 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The presentation was delivered jointly with one of our partners from Sheffield City Council and dressed issues concerning planning and design for older people in the city of Sheffield. It involved relaying information concerning the work that has been carried out by our research team in writing policy for the Council's Local Plan. This has potentially wide impact on the future planning policy of the city if adopted.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Public Exhibition held in Sheffield City Centre as part of Urban Design Week, October 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the wider engagement work of the project we held an exhibition at a prominent city centre location to assess the public's and specifically older people's response to our design proposals for housing and neighbourhoods suited to their requirements for ageing well and remaining mobile in later life.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://dwell.group.shef.ac.uk/dwell-pop-up-exhibition/
 
Description Town and Country Planning Association Planning and Ageing Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk at Conference entitled Planning for an ageing population, with a presentation titled 'Do we have the planning policies we need to
create age-friendly places?'. Feedback from delegates was positive (email from Julia Thrift, TCPA 14/12/16)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016