The nursing home of the future ~ Abaster

07 April 2009

The nursing home of the future

Business Innovation Factory has undertaken some excellent work on how innovation and systems thinking can help re-architect the nursing home. The BIF work shows how inadequately most nursing homes address the challenges the elderly face. How the physical space is designed - how long the hallways are, how adapted the sinks and counters are to wheel chair use, etc. - is key to the well-being of the residents. But it is not only the home itself that is important - the home and its residents are part of the local community and ensuring accessibility to the community is also an essential component of the elderly care system. As a doctor notes in one of the videos, before moving into nursing homes most residents could probably access some green space - either their back garden or nearby park, etc. Once inside that ability is drastically reduced thereby depriving residents of the joys of being outdoors (and the physical and psychological pleasure that is derived from it). BIF's work shows how important it is to re-think and redesign not only the home itself but also the home's place in the community and local environment. The welfare of the elderly in our societies has been grossly neglected and this work, and work undertaken by Participle for example, are important steps to building environments and communities in which the elderly can thrive. Such initiatives need to be encouraged, at local and national levels - after all, we all become elderly eventually.