The Dutch government as well as the majority of older adults themselves prefer to live at home as long as possible. According to the Dutch government there are two possibilities: 1) modification of the current home or 2) timely moving to a home that better fits the next phase of life. Most of the ideas to facilitate living at home independently concerns functional design and fulfils the (assumed) needs of older people such as accessibility and safety. Such a functional approach may be necessary, but there is more.
What is important for residential happiness of independently living elderly in the Netherlands?
Leyden Academy has the mission to enhance the quality of life of older people and finds residential happiness at least as important as functionality. We focus on individual wishes, besides needs. The current practical solutions are initiated for the elderly, and not by or with the elderly. In addition, with standard solutions there is little attention for differences in history, family situation, local context, and individual living requirements. In this project, we develop a tool in which the elderly can discover which places, objects and activities they find important in their home, the neighbourhood and in contact with the neighbours. Together with an architect, project developer, housing corporation and/or municipality they can come up with a design for their own living environment.
The aim of the project on residential happiness is to improve the living conditions of older adults living independently at home. The project consists of the following five steps:
- Research into residential happiness with older people in different living contexts: service flat, private and social housing, living group and courtyard. The participants take pictures of important topics in their home and neighbourhood, and in contact with neighbours. They answer questions in a personal logbook. The pictures will be the topics of discussion during a focus group interview.
- All the information on residential happiness, why it is important and how it changes as we age will be gathered in a research report.
- Together with older persons, a designer and an architect we will discuss and try out possible designs for a conversation tool. Furthermore, we are developing a reflection book for older adults living independently at home.
- The outcome of all previous steps will be shared with the elderly and other stakeholders during workshops.
- Finally, the instrument to increase the elderly’s residential happiness will be further developed and available for architects, project developers and care workers.
The residential happiness project is financially supported by service flat Schouwenhove, Hofje Codde and Van Beresteyn, and De Carolusgulden.