Planning and design for quality of life and resilience in residential long-term care settings for older people in Ireland: Research and Universal Design Guidelines for new-build, adaption and retrofit

In Ireland, the provision of Residential Care Settings (RCS) for Older People is currently inadequate; putting pressure on the health system and undermining the care of many older people. As the population increases and ages, the number of people requiring RCS will increase. This is recognised by the Irish government in health strategies and capital investment programmes.

The success of these facilities is greatly influenced by design and the quality of the built-environment, and how this impacts resident quality-of-life.

COVID-19 exposes how many settings are ill-designed for infection-control and protection of residents. It illustrates the importance of space and spatial practices such as social distancing, and isolation/quarantine, all of which have immediate and long-term implications for RCS planning and design.

Yet, there is scant research or evidence-based guidance regarding best-practice planning and design of Irish RCS – this project will address this deficit.

To achieve this, we will work with Public Patient Involvement (PPI) contributors, residents and families, staff, and other stakeholders through focus groups, interviews and questionnaires to understand key issues. We will conduct literature and policy reviews, and study Irish and international case studies to identify how design can support quality-of-life and resilience and use this to produce national-level design RCS guidelines. These guidelines will be underpinned by Universal Design and will provide detailed guidance and exemplars. They will address actions in the 2019 ‘Housing Options for Our Ageing Population ‘and support the National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland.

This project will promote best-practice design and enable evidence-based decision-making for planning and designing RCS to support quality of life and resilience. The guidelines will provide detailed and practical information for RCS providers, architects, local authorities and policy makers and will be applicable to existing and new-build settings in rural/suburban/urban locations.

Award Date
01 July 2022
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Desmond O'Neill
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Investigator Led Projects