- Planning for Age-Friendly Neighbourhoods   click here to open paper content705 kb
by    Baldwin, Claudia & Osborne, Caroline | cbaldwin@usc.edu.au   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper provides insight into two research projects: a desktop exercise
investigating trends in international aged care provision and a
participatory research project using PhotoVoice and design charrettes to
ask seniors in South East Queensland about their preferences for
neighbourhoods and housing.
Traditional models of retirement living provide low to high care options
derived from care or leisure oriented models that generally result in the
segregation of seniors from the rest of the community. Research
investigating international aged care provision uncovered that the more
innovative models of senior living have ‘unbundled’ care and accommodation,
providing for greater choice, independence and dignity for people as their
needs change (Baldwin & Osborne 2010). Many of the case studies examined,
support not only seniors’ preference to age-in-place (Quinn & Judd, 2010),
but also foster their engagement in activities or with others, including
multiple generations. This affects mobility, and reduces social isolation,
major contributors to seniors' health and wellbeing (Productivity
Commission, 2011). From a design perspective, this trend also liberates the
way housing and care options can be conceptualised and designed for
seniors, to allow for more innovative approaches. Whilst the WHO (1997)
Age-Friendly Cities Guidelines suggests that seniors should be included in
decisions that affect them, there are few examples in the academic
literature where seniors were asked about their preferences for
neighbourhoods or housing.

This gap in the literature inspired a consortium of non-profit, private and
public sector partners led by the University of the Sunshine Coast to
investigate the neighbourhood and housing preferences of seniors in South
East Queensland, Australia. Conducted over one year in 2011, the
participative research methodology using PhotoVoice and Design Charrettes
allowed seniors to critically inform a brief with detailed design
principles and to oversee and advise a design team on suitable housing
options in real time. The research culminated in a number of housing
typologies that were designed in active collaboration with seniors in
design charrettes (Baldwin, Osborne & Smith, 2012).

The findings of these two pieces of research clearly converge to provide
key lessons in the housing, neighbourhood and care preferences of seniors.
At the dwelling scale, universal design and case managed care are critical
facilitators of enabling seniors to age in place. At the neighbourhood
scale, critical facilitators of inclusion and mobility are age-friendly
neighbourhood design and safety, including public transport considerations
and well maintained and shaded walking paths. At the cognitive level,
active participation with the broader community and staying mentally active
was important, including opportunities for meaningful work, hobbies,
volunteering or inter-generational interaction. This contributes to active
ageing, both physically and cognitively, which is strongly associated with
better health and wellbeing outcomes for seniors (National Seniors
Productive Ageing Centre, 2010:9). This suggests that the models of housing
and care for seniors that will be the most sustainable will be those that
afford them the opportunity for greater choice, independence and dignity.

A significant finding of the research was the development of the “Ageing in
Neighbourhood” concept, which demonstrates how a range of housing
typologies suitable to seniors might fit together in an urban neighbourhood
to increase housing choice for seniors. The participatory approach of this
research was instrumental in exploring the contribution that planning can
make and the trade-offs that seniors are willing to make to achieve
suitable design solutions. It also identified barriers to innovation in
contemporary housing challenges. This research has broader implications: it
demonstrates the value of using innovative methods of engagement to capture
the future that seniors envision as they age; and provides insight into
planning and delivering inclusive neighbourhoods.
click here to open paper content  Click to open the full paper as pdf document
click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper  Click to send an email to the author(s) of this paper