HAPPI – Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation – was commissioned by the Homes and Communities Agency on behalf of Communities and Local Government and the Department of Health to set out the case for change in the provision of housing for older people.
PTE was selected by the HCA jointly with Levitt Bernstein Associates to play a key role in this landmark government commission. Together we organised the process, which included visits to 24 exemplar schemes in six countries, conducted background research, and co-authored the final report, which was launched in December 2009. It has been enthusiastically received by sector agencies and is already being put to use as a policy driver within new developments.
The report highlights new models for housing and care which inspired the panel during their European study visits. These include the co-housing model, where groups of older people initiate a project to meet their own specific housing needs and see that project through to fruition via highly participatory design and management processes. The report also highlights the model in which homes are designed around a social hub which provides facilities to support a range of activities, and where residents and the wider community can come together.
There is an appetite here in the UK for ways of responding to changing demographics, and the HAPPI report demonstrates how potential solutions extend beyond the traditional route of sheltered housing. We need to design homes which have real appeal for the older age group – and in doing so we will also help the next generation by freeing up badly needed family homes.