Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Senior care / Public health

Updated design guidance on extra-care housing offers infection control advice

By Andrew Sansom 29 Jun 2020 0

The Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) has published an updated version of its ‘Factsheet no. 6: Design principles for extra-care housing’, which describes key design principles and issues to consider when developing a brief for a new extra-care housing development, including with COVID-19 in mind.

Written by PRP Architects, the new version takes into account the progress made in designing extra-care housing to the HAPPI (Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation) design quality principles and latest accessibility requirements for an ageing population.

It has also been updated to address health and safety considerations following Grenfell, the avoidance of overheating and, more recently, the impact of COVID-19 on the design of self-contained accommodation for older people – for example, layouts to limit infection control while maintaining social interaction among residents.

Cited in the Department of Health’s Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund, the guidance outlines a diverse range of models for extra-care housing, including:

  • Typical extra-care housing – Developments of between 50 and 120 apartments all under one roof, offering residents a ‘home for life’ within a community of older people with access to communal facilities. 
  • Extra-care villages – Large-scale extra-care developments offering a ‘home for life’ with a wide range of communal facilities in a ‘village centre’. 
  • Continuing care retirement communities ­– Large-scale developments, sometimes ‘gated’, including both housing and care typologies on one site to ensure continuity of care, together with a wide range of communal facilities providing a social focus. Village developments generally cater for the private retirement market with leasehold apartments for sale, monthly service charges and various different arrangements for exit fees. 
  • Community care hubs – A hub is flexible in its concept, configuration, and in the services and/or accommodation it might offer. Its purpose is to form the basis for an integrated approach to healthcare, care services and housing. Extra-care housing can be included, along with a range of residential accommodation offering short-term and/or longer tenure options, such as rehabilitation, respite care, dementia care or retirement housing. 

The factsheet contains a wealth of information on planning and consultation, design aims principles, site and location considerations, technical factors, and what a ‘healthy’ extra-care development looks like. 

In respect of COVID-19, a section on infection control provides guidance on how later-living communities can be better designed to respond to the challenges of bacterial and viral spread, while also addressing the distressing impact of self-isolation and social distancing. 

It explains that in extra-care housing, the accommodation is fully self-contained, which enables residents to self-isolate quite easily during a pandemic. It adds that with the right training and protection for staff, it’s possible to deliver a high level of support and security to residents, including access to outdoor space, meals, deliveries, virtual social events, safety information, and personal interaction with staff. 

It concedes that some ideas presented may have a financial impact on build costs, and that there will be conflicting requirements for cost-efficient space planning and a desire to ensure the environment is domestic rather than clinical. The guidance also suggests the ideas should be taken further into interior and landscape design concepts to create an intuitive sense of how to move around the building and enjoy life safely. 

The guidance considers the following issues in regard to infection control: the main entrance for residents and visitors; staff; movement within the building; storage; multi-purpose and flexible spaces; natural ventilation; deliveries; communication; the building plan; sanitation; gardens and external space; deliveries; visitors; and meals.

Concluding the factsheet is a chapter on designing for people with physical frailty, cognitive and sensory impairments, as well as further information on design standards and other guidance documents.