£8m backing for research into old age living
Projects to improve life for older people will look at community issues and housing
Report from – Jo Smit
Seven research projects into better living for older people through design of the built environment have won more than £8m funding from three research councils. Project themes will include looking at what deters older people from engaging in their community – physical activity such as walking and cycling, and the effects of neighbourhoods being divided by busy roads. Other projects will examine the design of new buildings and the retrofitting of older homes, and how residential care homes are designed.
The projects result from the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW) joint research council programme, led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Minister for universities and science, David Willetts, said: “We need to do everything we can to meet the needs of our ageing population. These research projects will involve thousands of volunteers and draw on the expertise of Britain’s leading universities to help older people live more healthily, happily and independently.”
The seven research projects
Mobility, mood and place: a user-centred approach to design of built environments to make mobility easy, enjoyable and meaningful for older people. This project is searching for new ideas about the design of places that support positive emotions, reduce anxiety, and encourage people to be more active and mobile, long into old age. It is led by University of Edinburgh working with King’s College London, Heriot-Watt University and the Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York.
Promoting independent cycling for enhancing later life experience and social synergy through design (PrICELESS Design). This study will develop a toolkit for policymakers and practitioners to advise them on how the built environment and technology could be designed to support and promote cycling among current and future older generations. It is led by Oxford Brookes University working with University of Reading, University of the West of England, University of Cardiff.
MyPLACE: Mobility and place for the age-friendly city environment. A digital platform and toolkit will be developed and tested to enable members of the public to engage with local councils and other organisations more effectively in the research, planning and design of the urban environment. It is led by Newcastle University working with Northumbria University.
BESiDE – Built environment for social inclusion in the digital economy. The purpose here is to identify how better-informed building design can help greater mobility, physical activity, social connectedness and wellbeing. It is led by University of Dundee working with Newcastle University.
Co-design of the built environment for mobility in later life. The intention of this project is to co-create practical tools which can act as complements or alternatives to redesign of the built environment. It is led by University of York with University of Leeds, Newcastle University and Northumbria University.
Street mobility and accessibility: developing tools for overcoming older people's barriers to walking. Examination of the effects of community severance, when busy roads act as a barrier or deterrent to mobility, will lead to the development and testing of tools, particularly for local government to help councils model and value levels of community severance in their area. The project is led by UCL.
How better design can facilitate mobility, connectivity and wellbeing for older people: a participatory approach to design research. This project hopes to discover 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. This is led by University of Sheffield.