Who are building users?
- There is a tendency to focus on building users in terms of residents, but users of a building for later life care may include:
- Family and Community (e.g. relatives and friends, GPs, nurses, volunteers)
- Staff (e.g. managers, care workers, cleaners laundry workers, kitchen staff, maintenance workers, activities workers)
- Care provider
- Architects draw on a range of strategies to imagine future residents, but anticipating who this will be can be uncertain in the initial stages of design.
- When designing for extra care housing, the levels of need and care provision are variable, which can create challenges in refining the design.
- In design guidance and in design practice, the focus is generally on improving design for older residents/people living with dementia. There is a comparative lack of design guidance for staff.
- There can be competing needs between providers, staff, relatives and residents e.g. between a desire to facilitate residents’ independence and concerns about risk.
- There can be an issue of disconnect between design intention and operation of a building, suggesting a need for greater connection between staff working practices and the design process, as illustrated in the access to the outdoors as an important example of care home design.
- Decisions about more mundane aspects of building design and materials (e.g. sprinklers, air conditioning, ventilation, wood, bricks) have significant implications for how staff and residents experience the building, for example in the design of care home laundries.
“It comes down to staff, staff, staff, staff. So it’s very important that you provide a care home that looks good to the person who’s in it, the person who’s paying for it, and the resident’s children or carer. But also it’s got to be good for the staff to work in because then you attract good staff and you keep good staff. I don’t know how you support the resident if you’re not supporting the [paid] carer. Because it’s the carer that looks after the resident”