Older people are just like us. We all want to live our best lives. We just require different levels of design input as we age. We consider these on every scheme to bake-in flexibility for the occupants as well as the wants of the developer and investor.

Specific Elements to design Care Homes

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Specific elements to design care homes as the UK population ages.  Drawing on our own experience of later living and residential care home design as architects in Portsmouth, we outline 5 specific elements to design care homes.

We consider these on every scheme to bake-in flexibility for the occupants as well as the wants of the developer and investor.

Improving the quality of later life is something we discuss with our developer and investor clients. Designing care homes in Hampshire, we advise clients that the path to take through the design process will have a big impact on the person whose home we create and the overall value of the scheme.

Catering for our increasing and aging population will also mean that residential, dementia and nursing homes will need to adapt to stay a home of choice for individuals and their families (read our article: What are the differences in design of care homes, extra care homes and nursing homes?)

So, what does it take?  Drawing on our own experience as architects in Portsmouth, here we take a sneaky peek into our innovative approach, the specific elements to design care homes.


Community is King

Keeping a keen eye on the ultimate occupants for us plays a fundamental part in the feasibility of any of designing care homes in Hampshire.  How far a care home is from community life, basic resources, friends and family can make or break a scheme.  In an ideal world, developers would prefer to start with an out-of-town green field site. We understand this.

In our experience though, designing care home schemes in Hampshire, we have found they are best placed in a community setting. The potential target market needs the community aspect, not the out-of-town green field site.  For the older generation it’s a big driver on top of which the move is a big decision. Sometimes taken at a difficult time of life, when perhaps through illness or the death of a partner, moving means facing tough choices. Adjusting to living away from friends, family and the basic components of day-to-day life makes it a hard decision.

Care home design needs to consider this.  But research shows that UK house prices are projected to rise by 3% in the next 12 months, so confidence is growing in the housing market and this can give the home owner a better outcome.

Care homes come with many different conveniences, but the community makes a profound difference.

In one example, we obtained planning consent, after appeal, for a 14 bed apartment sheltered housing scheme.  On behalf of Elm Trees Retirement Living, we provided technical design, support and management throughout the build process. 

The scheme provides residents with full care and support with cooked meals provided on site within the communal dining room served by a commercial grade kitchen.

Unusually for us, working in our own home city of Portsmouth, the scheme is set in the heart of a residential suburb of the city.  Perfect for the residents.


Specific Spaces

Building specific personal and community spaces has become much more important and nuanced.  Easing the transition from single home ownership to a varied later living experience can be difficult.  So, both specific personal and community spaces within a care home design can help this move.  Drawing on our own experience as architects in Hampshire provides answers to these issues head on.

Homes can now boast luxurious suites with top spec kitchens and relaxing patio areas as well as community spaces.  These sometimes include hairdressers, gyms and space for beauty treatments giving the occupant a better quality of later life.  The architectural practise of more is more isn't about excess; it's about enriching the lives of those who call these spaces home.

One example of this type of project is Selborne Road, Alton, Hampshire designed on behalf of Highwood Group.  KSA will be providing construction drawings and support through to completion to deliver this BREEAM Excellent rated for the care home on behalf of Hartford Care.  But the combination of care home and an age restricted affordable apartments provides plenty of choice for residents with options.


Research the residents

Of course, it’s a given that KSA adheres to the various legislative aspects of design and construction when designing care homes in Hampshire.  Taking into consideration the finer details however can improve the overall daily happiness of every resident.

Research and detail on every aspect of care home living such as distances walked, positioning of grab rails, viewing points at seated level and giving staff the appropriate amount of space to work all push us as architects to create homes that truly work.

As lead director, Daniel Knight says: “we have to keep a very open mind.  Smoothing these potential issues early on, so that the design runs smoothly.  As architects in Portsmouth, we regularly undertake research.  To look at every scheme from all angles assessing the benefits to see if our ideas make the difference.”

He continued: “our clients expect us to also keep a keen eye on market dynamics as well as making sure the design isn't just a place to stay but a place to thrive.  Basically, we’re ensuring that more is more here.


Economic Foresight

Research insight into care home residents with and without nursing care are more likely to report good or very good health within the younger age groups that occupy care homes.  Care homes are needed to continue to deliver answers for our UK population.

Research insight into care home residents with and without nursing care are more likely to report good or very good health within the younger age groups who use care homes.  Care homes are needed to continue to deliver answers for our older UK population.

Building considered high quality care homes boosts the housing sector as traditional family homes are freed up for younger generations.  Larger homes with lower overall occupancy able to house families become available current housing stock.


Not just building for now

Housing our older generations here in Hampshire and in the UK requires continuous decisions.  Input from architects, developers, planners, the whole design team and our local communities are needed.

Re-using existing sites and re-purposing urban areas will place care home living into the fabric of the community.  This method not only benefits the environment.  But it also has the potential to decrease development costs and sustain a relationship for the occupants with the local community.

According to Daniel, there is a growing demand for places like these from consumers. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the market.  Seniors are seeking to live in communities that are more walkable and liveable.


Daniel Knight, Design Director & Chartered Architect, BA (Hons), DipArch, MA Prof. Parc, RIBA, Arb

My name is Daniel.  As an architect based in Portsmouth, I enjoy developing all types of real estate including residential dementia and nursing homes.  I liaise with the team to deliver feasibility studies, oversee planning and provide our technical support through construction.

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