Though not a common development in the UK at the moment, care villages have become more and more prevalent in countries like the U.S, Australia and New Zealand. By providing a more community based approach to caring for the elderly, care villages are able to give older residents a new lease of life with a greater independence that may otherwise be impossible to achieve.
One of the most recent UK developments is a 34 property site being developed by Richmond Villages at Letcombe Regis. As this project continues to grow and near completion, it raises a number of interesting questions concerning how well adapted the modern home is for elderly people.
The most common issue for elderly people in the kitchen is having to reach and stretch for things in high cupboards or that are hidden away. Being unable to clamber up kitchen chairs or carry heavy loads, means that there usually has to be a little reorganisation to ensure everything is easy to access. Fortunately, new storage solutions, such us sliding shelves, have enabled residents to efficiently redesign their kitchens for simple everyday use.
The bathroom presents a number of challenges that make using facilities we take for granted incredibly difficult. Clambering in and out of a slippery bath tub is one such issue and often leaves older residents unable to use their bath or shower safely.
Care villages usually get around this problem by installing hand rails or walk in baths, providing residents with access to washing facilities whenever they need them and giving them additional peace of mind. Ensuring that the bathroom is also kept dry, in order to prevent slipping and any nasty falls, is also a top priority for the designers of care villages.
A lack of mobility in older residents means that climbing stairs can put a lot of strain on their more frail bodies. With this in mind, architects often try and minimise the amount of stairs used to get around the house. This is also true of smaller steps that are found around doors and entrances, as they are often hazardous obstacles for residents wandering around the home.
The importance of gardens in care villages cannot be underestimated and they are often the most popular areas used by residents. By providing a beautiful and safe outside area, the care villages give those living there the ability to enjoy outside spaces without having to worry about anything.
The most common feature of these garden spaces is a surplus of high quality and comfortable seating, which gives residents the chance to relax in the beautiful natural environment and have a complete change of scenery.