Ageing Population

For the first time, the Essex Design Guide makes specific reference to planning and designing new developments with regard to the needs of the ageing population.

This theme was introduced in response to a forecast increase over the coming years in the number of older people in Essex. An ageing population brings many specific considerations for planners and developers, not least the related increase in people living with conditions such as dementia.

Rather than discussing the ageing population in a separate section of the guide, the key principles have been integrated into the wider text. The aim throughout has been to avoid suggesting major adaptations; rather, the guide seeks to identify how minor changes at the outset of the design process can support and meet the needs of the ageing population, creating the conditions that allow older people to remain independent and in their own home.

Accommodating the needs of older people requires the introduction of standardised measurements and designs that enable dwellings to withstand the loads of mobility or safety aids. The Building Regulations Part M4 Category 2 (Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings) should be adopted into all new designs so as to correctly address such fundamentals of accessibility and approach. New homes should also consider designing to accommodate the shift towards digital healthcare.

The guide includes a series of design principles that provide an insight into how best to support people to live in adaptable homes as they age. However, these principles should not be seen as being of benefit exclusively to the ageing population. Rather, they represent opportunities to positively impact the lives of older people and people with a range of health conditions, encouraging and enabling independent living by:

  • ensuring homes and communities are flexibly designed and can adapt to user needs;
  • providing options for self-care and self-support through digital connectivity; and
  • supporting general health and wellbeing through the delivery of high-quality, considered design.

Throughout the guide, the contention is made that landscape can play a key part in improving the physical and mental health of the elderly as well as the security and stability of dementia patients. Older people are an integral part of the community and should not be separated from other age groups. The presence of mixed age groups within a community helps to address issues such as fear and safety by offering enhanced natural surveillance.

The ageing population theme is addressed within the following sections of the guide:

Page updated: 16/04/2018

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