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Does the design of extra-care housing meet the needs of the residents? A focus group study


The study objective was to explore the views of residents and relatives concerning the physical design of extra-care housing. Five focus groups were conducted with residents in four extra-care schemes in England. One focus group was carried out with relatives of residents from a fifth scheme. Schemes were purposively sampled to represent size, type, and resident tenure. Data were analysed thematically using NVivo 8. Two over-arching themes emerged from the data: how the building supports the lifestyle and how the building design affects usability. Provision of activities and access to amenities were more restrictive for residents with disabilities. Independent living was compromised by building elements that did not take account of reduced physical ability. Other barriers to independence included poor kitchen design and problems doing laundry. Movement around the schemes was difficult and standards of space and storage provision were inadequate. The buildings were too hot, too brightly lit and poorly ventilated. Accessible external areas enabled residents to connect with the outside world. The study concluded that, while the design of extra-care housing meets the needs of residents who are relatively fit and healthy, those with physical frailties and/or cognitive impairment can find the building restrictive resulting in marginalisation. Design across the dependency spectrum is key in meeting the needs of residents. Inclusive, flexible design is required to benefit residents who are ageing in situ and have varying care needs.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Sarah Barnes, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield S1 4DA, UK. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
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