The relationship between building design and residents' quality of life in extra care housing schemes

Alison Orrell, Kevin McKee, Judith Torrington, Sarah Barnes, Robin Darton, Ann Netten, Alan Lewis (2013)

Health and Place 21 52-64

Available online: 24 January 2013

Well-designed housing is recognised as being an important factor in promoting a good quality of life. Specialised housing models incorporating care services, such as extra care housing (ECH) schemes are seen as enabling older people to maintain a good quality of life despite increasing health problems that can accompany ageing. Despite the variation in ECH building design little is known about the impact of ECH building design on the quality of life of building users. The Evaluation of Older People’s Living Environments (EVOLVE) study collected cross-sectional data on building design and quality of life in 23 ECH schemes in England, UK. Residents’ quality of life was assessed using the Schedule for the Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life – Direct Weighting (SEIQoL-DW) and on the four domains of control, autonomy, self-realisation and pleasure on the CASP-19. Building design was measured on 12 user-related domains by means of a new tool; the EVOLVE tool. Using multilevel linear regression, significant associations were found between several aspects of building design and quality of life. Furthermore, there was evidence that the relationship between building design and quality of life was partly mediated by the dependency of participants and scheme size (number of living units). Our findings suggest that good quality building design in ECH can support the quality of life of residents, but that designing features that support the needs of both relatively independent and frail users is problematic, with the needs of highly dependent users not currently supported as well as could be hoped by ECH schemes.