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£8m given to research into adapting environments for older people

13th September 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is investing £8 million of funding into carrying out research projects into what older people believe cities and care environments are lacking in terms of how they are designed.

As reported in this article by The Institute of Engineering and Technology, around 5,000 older people will contribute their experiences of getting around urban spaces and make suggestions on how this can be improved, particularly for those who also have mobility difficulties. Seven research projects in total will be launched, all of which aim to discover what aspects of older people's lives stop them from making the most of the communities that they live in.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, praised the projects when the funding was announced, saying that they will contribute greatly towards helping "older people live more healthily, happily and independently", both in the home, with personal mobility aids such as a walk in shower, and in public spaces, which can be achieved with measures as simple as putting up clear signposting.

The results of the research projects will be used to help make buildings and networks within the city easier for people with mobility difficulties to get around, and one such project will look at how the environment makes older people feel using brain scans taken whilst they are engaging with a number of different environments. Another project will be investigating how to design new buildings in the future with older people in mind, as well as proposing ideas for how a number of older buildings could be retrofitted with mobility aids, which can include anything from stair lifts to ramps.

Professor Paul Boyle, chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, has also welcomed news of the funding and says that the projects will "enable older people to sustain their social networks, which we know are so critical to lifelong health and wellbeing".

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