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8 February 2007

Housing Design

People working in the industry argue that if houses were designed better, older people would be able to keep living in them.

AMY BAINBRIDGE, REPORTER: From the front door, it looks like any other stylish new home. But this home in Dunlop is adaptable - a home that has the capacity to change as the owner's needs change.

ERIC MARTIN, ARCHITECT: Adaptable means providing an infrastructure which takes care of access to the house, makes sure the spaces are wide enough for wheelchairs and others to use it, and that certain provisions are built-in so that it can be converted to an accessible house, which means complying with the Australian Standards for access at a later stage.

AMY BAINBRIDGE: While there is some community unrest surrounding the proposed aged care development at Ainslie, the push has been on for some time to create housing that will allow people to stay in their own homes rather than move to an aged care facility.

ROBERT MOORE, MASTER BUILDERS ASSOCIATION: It covers a field in the housing industry which is not fully addressed at this point in time. It has been emerging for a number of years in Australia. Canberra has taken up the challenge.

ERIC MARTIN: It's certainly part of if you like the broader interpretation of the disability discrimination act is that we don't discriminate against people from all walks of life. But I also think it's really important from a good design practice to make houses more universally acceptable to everybody.

ANDREA SIMMONS, ACT DISABILITY AGED & CARER ADVOCACY SERVICE: Most people want to stay living in their own homes and communities, they have their own friends they know the shop keepers they have their interests. When you move into an aged care institution you're basically confirming to someone else's timetable and organisational structure.

AMY BAINBRIDGE: It's hoped that these sorts of homes could help lower the number of people on waiting lists for aged care facilities.

ANDREA SIMMONS: Look I'm sure it would go part of the way to it. I think as I've mentioned there's a range of things that you need to look at, and this is a good start

ROBERT MOORE: Most people Amy instantly see the extra width in the passage way. There is a minimum of one metre but when we have access to doorways we need a mandatory size to either side of the door for wheelchair access. The cost can be anywhere from 2 to 6 percent on the construction cost of the house, depending on the level of complexity of the features people wish to put in.

AMY BAINBRIDGE: But aged care groups say this home is just one step towards catering for Canberra's ageing population.

They say a range of services is needed that will allow people to age in their own homes.

ANDREA SIMMONS: Services that will talk to people, find out what it is they need help with and work to match to that. You also need to think in the longer term about how you plan for your communities which is not only infrastructure and just the way people can connect in communities.

ERIC MARTIN: In many ways the act is setting a trend Australia wide, it's the first one to have legislated to be across all government developments in Australia.

ROBERT MOORE: We just have to keep building and progressing and moving into building these houses, each house will be different, they won't be duplications of what we've built before, they'll be innovative houses using new technology.

story notes

Stylish means fashionable or smart.

Adaptable means able to be changed.

Capacity here means ability.

 takes care of
deals with; makes possible

Access means the way in and through the house.

 taken up
Example: I've taken up that job offer.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb take up, follow the link below to our language library.
more information: take up

 all walks of life
all kinds of jobs and backgrounds
Example: People from all walks of life enjoy watching football.

Complexity means complication or difficulty. If something is complex it has many different parts.

Here built is the past participle of the irregular verb build. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: build