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An Adaptable House is one which is able to respond effectively to changing household needs without requiring costly and energy intensive alterations. When building a new house many people anticipate spending a number of years, if not decades, living in their home. Others may conceive of a shorter stay. Whatever the intention, any new home is likely to have to accommodate changing needs over its lifetime. Australian demographics are changing rapidly with average households becoming both smaller and older, with an increasing number of people living independently in their later years. The balance between home and work life also places altering demands on our houses as many people choose to work from home offices. A single space may act at different times as a home office, a teenage retreat, a family study or a bedroom for an elderly relative.

An Adaptable House accommodates lifestyle changes without the need to demolish or substantially modify the existing structure and services.
Similarly, an adaptable dwelling might be designed to easily enable a reduction in size over time through the division of a large family home into two smaller housing units, offering residents the opportunity to continue living within a familiar environment. Household needs vary over time in relation to physical capabilities. Everyone can expect to experience temporary or permanent variations in their physical capabilities in their lifetime due to injury, illness or age. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that the percentage of individuals with a disability increases significantly with age, rising to more than half for people aged over 60. Due to longer life spans and higher proportions of older people in our society, it is more likely that every home will be required to respond to the needs of a person with a physical limitation whether they are a primary resident or visitor. For those with limited mobility, reduced vision or other disability, the ability to perform common tasks such as carrying shopping into the home, cooking a meal, using the bathroom or accessing items from high shelves may be unnecessarily limited by the physical design of a home. As the needs of individuals are specific to their personal circumstances there is no single solution to designing for an aging or disabled occupant but a number of design approaches exist:
1. 2. 3. The Universal House which is usable by as many people as possible without the need for specialisation. The Accessible House which meets the Australian Standard AS1428.1-2001 Design for Access and Mobility and is able to accommodate wheelchair users in all areas of the dwelling. The Adaptable House which adopts the idea of a Universal House and in addition is able to be easily adapted to become an Accessible House when required.


Universal design has been defined as the design of products and environments so that they are usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The intention being to simplify life for everyone by making more housing usable by more people at minimal extra cost. A Universal House uses building features, fittings and products in combination to increase usability, benefiting people of all ages and abilities. For example, a doorway or passageway is more easily navigated by users of mobility devices such as walking frames, wheelchairs or even a children s pram if it is slightly wider than typical. With regard to fittings, people with limited hand function find screw-type sink taps more difficult to use than lever-type taps which can be used by everyone. A similar benefit is found in using lever-type door handles and rocker electrical switches; incorporating the most usable fittings at the time of construction reduces the need for later retrofitting. A Universal House will ensure rooms and services within the home are of a size and type which is usable by as many people as possible. When homes are retrofitted with ramps, handrails, and other devices to provide enhanced usability an institutionalised appearance can result. Universal design does not propose special features for the aged or disabled but instead promotes normalised solutions to access and usability for the majority of people through the use of standard building products and practices. For example, designing an entry without

the need for steps removes the need for the later addition of a ramp and handrails for wheelchair users, while improving current access for children s prams.


In addition to being designed to be usable by most people, the Adaptable House has provision for additional modifications should they be required to meet the specific needs of an occupant. This may include the modification of kitchen joinery to meet changing physical needs, alterations to the laundry and bathroom to increase access and usability, the increase of lighting levels in response to sensory disability or the introduction of support devices such as grab rails and/or additional security measures.

Australian Standards provide guidance for designing houses to accommodate varying degree of physical ability over time.
Starting with the requirement that all houses are accessible to visitors using wheelchairs these standards then require the house to be able to adapt, becoming accessible to an occupant using a wheelchair. Although the need to accommodate a wheelchair user is unlikely to be experienced in every home, space requirements are set for wheelchair use as they represent the most difficult scenario for circulation and access. By providing enough space for wheelchairs, people with walking frames, children s prams, trolleys and other equipment can be better accommodated. AS4299 recommends that adaptable features designed into a dwelling be documented with before and after drawings clearly demonstrating the features which have been included. This avoids the reliance upon recollection and enables the information to be readily passed on to contractors or subsequent owners. Compliance with this standard enables a design to be certified as an Adaptable House, clearly identifying and recognising its adaptable features. Whether or not a designer is seeking certification, this document provides useful information.

Another floor plan (above) provides larger wet areas for improved accessibility, and these wet areas are located to allow for future extensions with only minor changes to the existing dwelling. A typical house plan (above) often requires the expensive relocation of wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchen if the house is to be extended.


The Universal House and the Adaptable House remain appropriate to occupant needs over a greater period of time. This reduces the need to relocate to alternative housing which can lead to dislocation from existing community ties. They are also attractive housing options for the greatest number of people and therefore provide a sound investment for resale and rental. Design for adaptability enables rapid response to changing life needs which can be quick and unexpected. It also increases the building s serviceable life span prior to remodelling, with associated financial, energy and material savings.

In the early stages of designing a new house or renovation consider what type of use may be desirable and discuss your choices with your architect, designer or builder. Consider:

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Is it likely that the house will be extended in the future? How might the use of space change over time? Is it desirable for the house to be visitable by elderly or disabled friends and relatives? (if yes, then ask your designer to adopt the Australian Standard for Adaptable Housing) Is it desirable to make provisions for the future accommodation of an ageing or occupant or one with a disability? (if yes, then ask your designer to adopt the Australian Standard for Adaptable Housing)

Adaptable housing solutions can also be considered in smaller projects.

Minor alterations to bathroom or kitchen plans can integrate many desirable adaptable housing features with minimal additional cost, making significant savings when adaptations are required in the future. The following section provides initial advice as to how spaces within and around a home may begin to accommodate both universal and adaptable housing principles. Essential features prescribed by the Australian Standard for Adaptable Housing (AS:4299) and required dimensions set by the Australian Standard Design for Access and Mobility (AS:1428) may vary over time as these documents are periodically revised.


An Adaptable House should:

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Provide easy access from both the street and car parking spaces in all weather and light conditions. Avoid stairs and use ramps only where essential. Dimension both ramps and stairs in compliance with AS:1428. Construct access paths from well drained, solid, non-slip surfaces that provide a high colour contrast to surrounding garden areas. Light pathways with low level lighting directed at the path surface, not the user. Protect paths and entries from weather. Avoid overhanging branches and plants which may drop leaves causing potential hazards.

For security, the house entrance needs to be visible from the entry point to the site or the car parking space. The entry itself should provide a level, sheltered landing dimensioned for wheelchair manoeuvrability and be adequately lit for visibility from inside the home. Entry door locks and lever handles should be fitted at appropriate heights and be able to be used with one hand. Avoid any obstructions or level changes which limit access by a wheelchair user or provide a tripping hazard to others.

The interior of a house should allow easy movement between spaces. Often, this simply involves a slight widening of internal doors and passageways. Ideally, easy access should be provided throughout the entire home but it may be considered necessary only in some portions of the home such as between living spaces, kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom. Internal doors with a minimum unobstructed width of 820mm and passageways with a minimum width of 1000mm are appropriate but any additional width is beneficial. Doorway width is measured from the face of the open door to the opposite frame. Circulation space around doors to allow wheelchair access is required, with special attention given to providing enough space to reach and operate the door lever. As door types and room configurations vary, reference should be made to AS:1428 for dimensions. Electrical outlets are best located at a minimum of 600mm above the floor. For light switches and other controls the ideal height range is 900-1100mm. The use of two way light switches at each end of corridors and where spaces have more than one entry is desirable. Lighting

design needs to respond to the specific uses of different spaces with an even distribution of light to avoid shadows and light fittings located over work surfaces where specific tasks are undertaken. It is advisable to ensure that lighting can be adapted to provide higher lighting levels when required due to visual limitations. Window sills should be low enough to allow unobstructed views to the exterior from standing, sitting and lying positions where appropriate. Where different floor surfaces meet these need to be level and fitted with appropriate cover strips to avoid tripping.


Living spaces should be comfortable and accessible to all residents and visitors. To accommodate a range of activities and tasks it is advisable to install thermal conditioning and services to suit a variety of furniture layouts. Australian Standards recommend:

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A minimum of four double electrical outlets. A telephone outlet adjacent to an electrical outlet. Two TV antennae outlets, all located at appropriate heights. Clear circulation space within the room of at least 2250mm diameter for wheelchair manoeuvrability.

In homes accommodating an elderly or disabled resident it is advisable to provide an additional living area separate to the bedroom and main family areas which provides an opportunity for personal space. This may be located inside or outside the home in an area protected from weather.


As a person s physical abilities change over time the kitchen is one of the main rooms in the house where the impact of physical limitations is felt. Detailed documentation for designing kitchens and joinery for wheelchair users is widely available, however even among wheelchair users people s maximum reach and strength vary greatly, as do kitchens designed specifically for individual disabled users. The design of a kitchen should not limit a person s independence and ought to be adaptable to accommodate specific individual s needs. To accommodate a wheelchair user or other seated occupant, portions of the work surfaces should be constructed at a lower level than those for standing users with leg room provided under work benches. To enable such changes to occur easily kitchen joinery can be installed using modular components which allow for easy removal or modification of individual components rather than the reconstruction of the entire joinery layout. Such components should be installed after the non-slip floor finish is completed to avoid replacement at a later stage. The kitchen should also be designed with safety considerations in mind including:

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Location of appropriately sized work spaces to the side of all appliances such as the cooktop, oven, microwave and refrigerator. The relationship between the cooktop and the sink to allow easy transfer of pots for draining. Contrasting colours between bench tops and cupboard fronts to assist the visually impaired.

At least one bedroom in the house should be accessible to a person using a wheelchair and be sized to enable manoeuvring within the space. The location of an accessible bedroom should take into account who is likely to use it, be it a family member with a temporary physical limitation, visitors of various abilities or an ageing resident. Additional services such as two way light switches, telephone outlet, additional electrical outlets and TV outlet are recommended to ensure maximum usability and security.

In the design of all wet areas such as toilets, bathrooms and laundry, ensure:

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Adequate sizing for access and circulation. Location of storage for easy and safe use. Installation of non-slip surfaces to minimise accidents.

At the time of construction either an accessible or visitable toilet should be included for use by visitors. If possible, include a bathroom that provides full accessibility for a wheelchair user, ensuring the bathroom and toilet are able to be used by residents with limited mobility or with the assistance of a carer.

If separate bathroom and toilet facilities are preferred at the time of construction an adaptable approach might be taken to achieve the same outcome, such as the use of a removable wall between the toilet cubicle and bathroom. To reduce the amount of work required at adaptation such a wall should be installed as a non-load bearing partition after the floor and wall finishes are completed. Similarly, any items such as vanity cupboards, toilet bowls, or shower screens which may require relocation or modification should not be constructed integral with the initial construction but installed as removable fixtures after all surrounding surfaces are completed. One of the most common adaptations employed in residential bathrooms is the installation of grab rails to provide support and stability. So that these can be installed without the need to demolish sections of wall to insert support points it is recommended that 12mm structural plywood be fixed to any stud wall framing behind the finished wall materials. When designing a bathroom remember it may be used by people either standing or seated, as this will inform leg space around hand basins and the location of items such as mirrors, electrical outlets and controls. Depending upon the user either top or front loading laundry appliances may be preferred. In either case, provide:

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A minimum circulation space 1550mm deep in front or beside appliances. Taps located to the side, not the back, of any laundry tub. Sufficient storage shelves at a maximum height of 1200mm.

Access to external drying areas should consider mobility issues and the need to use clothes baskets and trolleys.

Although single level homes seem an obvious choice for accessible housing, two or more storey houses and apartments can also be suitable for adaptation. The ground floor of a multi-level house can be accessible to visitors with a disability or even accommodate an occupant with a temporary disability. In addition to providing access between living, kitchen and bathroom spaces, the inclusion of an accessible bathroom and a space appropriate for use as a bedroom on the ground floor ensures maximum flexibility. To facilitate multi-level access, floor plans should allow for the future installation of vertical lifts or staircase lifts. A future vertical lift requires space for a hole through each floor adjacent to circulation space on all levels initially the hole in the upper floor can be filled in or the space can be utilised for storage until adaptation is required. A stair lift requires ample space on top and bottom stair landings.


Activities such as mail collection, rubbish storage, car parking and enjoyment of outdoor spaces must also be considered in designing for full accessibility:

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Make rubbish bins and recycling storage, letter boxes, clotheslines and garden tool storage accessible via paths, as described under Access and Entry . Provide access and circulation space to external occupied areas such as patios and terraces as described in Living Spaces .

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Provide private, sheltered areas with access to northern sun in winter that is visible from inside the home. Allow for raised garden beds for elderly or disabled gardeners in the initial garden layout. Locate car parking close to the entry with at least one covered parking space sized to enable wheelchair access. Make garage doors electronically operated. Allow future secure space for storage and recharging of a wheelchair or other mobility device such as a scooter. Ensure that garden and fence layouts do not compromise security by limiting visibility through the site. Ensure that house or unit numbers are clearly visible from the street. Use movement activated sensor lights.

Home Safety for Elderly

Home safety for elderly is an important part of ensuring your aging parents are safe at home. Over 30% of individuals over 65 fall at least once per year. Many of these falls have serious consequences, such as a hip fracture.

Living Situation
Does the senior live alone? Home safety for elderly is very important for elderly living alone.

Can they easily access help in an emergency? If not, consider a medical alert alarm system such as LifeLine or LifeLink. An alternate solution is to have a cordless phone available at all times. Home safety for elderly is about prevention and reducing risks. If an individual uses a walker or wheelchair, I often suggest carrying a cordless phone in a pouch attached to the device at all times in case they need to call for assistance.

Are there stairs at the entrance? Can the senior safely use the stairs? Is there a sturdy railing? Would a ramp be more appropriate (especially for individuals using a wheelchair)? Depending on the situation, an alternate home safety for elderly solution is a porch lift or stair glide.

Tripping hazards
Another important aspect of home safety for elderly is eliminating tripping hazards. Does the senior have scatter rugs or electric cords on the floor? Is the environment cluttered? Is there more than one flooring type? Is there a smooth transition between flooring? The ideal home environment will be free of tripping hazards and has an open floor plan so the senior can easily move around with a walker or wheelchair.

Is there adequate lighting? Consider installing brighter lights and night lights for individuals who have to get up in the middle of the night.

Transfers Does the senior have difficulty getting in and out of chairs? Are they too low? Cushions can be added to raise the seat height. Alternatively, platforms can be built or furniture risers can be installed to raise the seat to a more appropriate height. Walker/scooters/wheelchairs Does the individual use mobility aids? Can they easily negotiate around furniture and through doorways and hallways? The ideal home will be accessible and have plenty of room for the individual to move around using a walker or wheelchair.

Is the individual driving? Click here for more information about senior driving. If not, are they able to safely access transportation? Most communities have a public transit system and some have special transportation services for seniors. Others rely on friends and family for assistance. If seniors are using public transportation, is it close by and is there a safe route to walk or wheel to the access point?


Is there evidence of burns or fires? If so, the individual may benefit from a formal assessment by a health care professional as to their ability to safely live at home. Appliances Are the buttons and controls for the microwave and other appliances easy to read? Do the appliances automatically shut off after a certain amount of time? This is a helpful home safety for elderly feature for those with memory difficulties.

Access and Cleanliness

Are items within safe reach for seniors? Are items clean and properly stored? A change in cleanliness can be an indication of decreased endurance, memory or a variety of other issues. Talk to your parents about this change and consult a health care professional if needed.

Fire Hazards
Safety Are there signs of fire or burns? Are there smoke detectors and do they work? Is there a carbon monoxide detector and is it working properly? Does the senior use an electric blanket and does it have an automatic shut off feature? Fire emergency plan Does the senior have a fire emergency plan and exit strategy? Are they physically able to leave the building, especially without the use of elevators?

Household Management
Meals Can the senior prepare meals and hot drinks safely? Are they able to carry drinks and meals to the table or regular eating area? Some individuals find it difficult to cook meals everyday so they have meals delivered. Most cities have programs such as meals on wheels. Shopping Is the senior able to do their own shopping? Some local businesses and grocery stores deliver. Finances Can the senior manage their finances independently? An often forgotten aspect of home safety for seniors, is their ability to manage their finances and be protected from financial abuse. There are services available to assist seniors in managing bill payments and other financial matters.

Housecleaning and laundry

Are they able to clean and do laundry? Some individuals have housecleaning and laundry completed once a week a local service provider.


Bathing/Showering One of the most important aspects of home safety for seniors is bathroom safety. The combination of water, soap and hard surfaces requires careful attention. Is the senior able to get into and out of bathtub safely? There are a wide variety of grab bars and bathtub rails to assist seniors and ensure they are safe. Does the bath/shower floor have a non-skid mat? Toileting Does the older adult have difficulty getting on and off the toilet? They may benefit from a raised toilet seat or toilet safety frame. Click here for more information on equipment for seniors. Faucets and door handles Are the water faucets and door handles easy for seniors to open and close? Lever style handles are easier and safer for seniors to use. Dressing and Grooming Dressing and Grooming Does the older adult have difficulty getting dressed or grooming? There are a variety of dressing and grooming aids that enable older adults to safely complete personal care activities independently. Click here for more information on equipment for seniors. Home Support Worker / Personal Care Assistant Some individuals may benefit from having a home support worker or personal care assistant help them with their morning routine (dressing, grooming, bathing and toileting).

Medication Management Is the senior managing their medication safely? Are they taking the right medication at the right time? Are the medications stored properly? An important aspect of home safety for elderly is the clients ability to properly manage medication. They are at an increased risk for falls if they are not properly managing their medications. Medication Refills and Packaging Can they get to the pharmacy for refills? Some pharmacies deliver if the older adult is not able to go to the pharmacy in person. Would the senior benefit from a medication reminder box or blister packets? Most pharmacies can advise their customers on available options.

Telephone Can the older adult use the telephone? Do they have difficulty reading the numbers? Does the senior have any difficulty with their speech, hearing or vision? There are phones designed for specifically for older adults. Click here for more information on equipment for seniors. Are emergency numbers posted and readable?

Television Does the elderly individual enjoy watching television? Are they able to see and hear the TV? There are products available that can address both of these issues. Contact a local electronic or medical supply store for more information. Wandering Wandering Registry Does the senior have a history of wandering away from home? If so, register them with a wandering person's registry. Most local police or public health departments maintain this type of registry in case they find someone who is lost or suspected of wandering. Personal Information Card Individuals who have a history of wandering should have a medic alert card or carry card with their personal information and emergency contact information. Alarm System Depending on the severity of the individuals wandering issue, consider an alarm system that would alert caregivers that the individual has opened a door or window. Neighbors Notify neighbors of the situation as they may be able to assist in ensuring the senior does not walk away from the house. Home safety for elderly is also about ensuring proper supports and neighbors are an excellent support system. Memory Memory Aids Does the individual have memory difficulties? There are a variety of products that assist seniors in remembering times, dates and events. Timers to remind individuals when cooking is also a good safety idea. REFERENCES http://www.caring-for-aging-parents.com/home-safety-for-elderly.html

Design Procedure for the Old Age Homes

But before we start with discussing our design consideration factors, it is very important to know what an Old Age Home is like and what is its purpose of construction Old Age Home at Chandigarh One important thing to be kept in mind before initiating the design process is that, we should study the purpose of the construction and what they are like. This will give us a clear idea of what we are actually suppose to consider in the design Apart from literature case studies, Live case studies are also very important

Old Age Homes

Old age homes are meant for senior citizens who suffer with a problem in staying with their children at home or are destitute. These homes are for older people who have nowhere to go and no one to depend on These homes create a friendly and family like atmosphere for the elderly people where they can share their joys and sorrows and live happily. Old Age Homes are pretty developed in United States, United Kingdom and there is recent development seen in the construction of Old Age Homes in India. These old age homes have special medical facilities for senior citizens such as mobile health care systems, ambulances, nurses and provision of well-balanced meals. So basically, it is a housing project for senior citizens of that country. Old Age Homes have two main categories: 1. Homes providing free Accomodation 2. Homes working on a payment basis Apart from food, shelter and medical amenities, old age homes also provide yoga classes to senior citizens. Old age homes also provide access to telephones and other forms of communication so that residents may keep in touch with their loved ones. Some old age homes have day care centres. These centres only take care of senior citizens during the day.

Location of Old Age Homes

y y y y y Studying the location of the structure is the most important factor. This will help us determine the climatic conditions of the place. Orientation of a building with respect to climatic conditions of the place. Location of an Old Age Home is of prime importance. It could be a part of the urban setting or it could be in a rural area. It depends on the kind of people that are going to stay in it. Some people prefer idyllic areas while some would like to live in close proximity to the quick facilities of the city. An Old Age Home should be preferably located in a calm, pollution free environment with all the basic necessities that are required for any comfortable housing project.

Design Concept of an Old Age Home

y y y y Design of Old Age Homes depends on the social and economic status of the people who are going to reside in the homes. They could be the dormitary type, independent rooms or cottages The rooms should be well-ventilated. Designing a ground Floor in an Old Age Home is of utmost importance. Possibly all the basic facilities in the home should be provided on the ground floor. If this is not possible and if upper floors have to be built then a sloping ramp has to be provided for facilitating easy passage of wheel chair and make movement of people with crutches easier.

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The toilets and bathrooms should have rough flooring so that the elders do not slip. Suitable railings should be provided for support. Recreation rooms and rooms for medical care should be built.

Working Staff in the Old Age Homes

y y An administrator is must for the homes of the aged who will be responsible for the running of the home. Supporting staff such as clerks, cashier cum accountant, nursing staff, attenders, maids and a cook are the basic required staff for the efficient running of a old age home. Helpers at Old Age Homes y y y y y y A medical officer will be needed to attend to the health needs of the inmates. If the home is very close to a hospital where emergencies can be treated then, it may be enough to avail the services of a Doctor, who works there part-time. A nutritionist can play an important role by providing special attention to the nutritional requirements of the residents. At least a part-time nutritionist should be appointed. A professionally qualified social worker is an essential member of the team of personnel. Wherever possible nursing staff and health care workers trained in Geriatric care should be appointed. There is a need for helpers in the Old Age Homes who will take care of the Old people and help them move around After figuring out the staff requirements for the Old Age Homes, we can determine the amount of space required for their offices and construction of quarters where they can stay while on job.

Medical Care Facilities in an Old Age Home

There should be a sterile store room where all medicines and medical accessories that may be needed for treatment of the residents are to stored as per the advice of a general physician. Medical care facility in an Old Age Home y y There are certain instruments that are necessary for the medical treatment such as Oxygen cylinders, suction apparatus and intra-venous sets should be readily available. Drugs should be replaced periodically, considering their expiry date. Transport facilities such as ambulances or any other vehicle that is similarly equipped as an ambulance should be available in case there is a need to rush them to the hospital for intensive care.

Recreational Facilities in an Old Age Home

y y Provision of recreational facilities is must. Old people also need entertainment so that their mind does not remain idle. This will help their life become lively and happy and keep them away from any kind of depressing thoughts. Facilities such as small reading area, televisions, video players, newspapers and books should be provided. Sports in Old age Homes y y Not all old people like sedentary lifestyle Depending on the extent of the physical activity of the residents other facilities for active sports such as: tennis, table tennis, squash can be provided. A small computer room could be provided for accessing the internet which is a must in today s world. That will keep the residents mentally active and aware of the world outside

From our discussion we can conclude some of the most important and basic Requirements in an Old Age Home
y y y y y y Common Rooms Single and Double Bedrooms Pantry in every Bedroom Main Kitchen Dining Area Television Area

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Reading room Praying room Computer room Offices for the staff Common Toilets Sports Facilities for Tennis, Badminton etc. $/DQGVFDSHG*DUGHQZLWKDMRJJLQJWUDFN