The principle of “aging-in-place” (AIP) highlights the need to allow elderly person to live in their own home and community where they are familiar with as long as they wish. It avoids the risk of losing the sense of security when they are relocated from a familiar physical and social environment. Providing a safe living environment is a critical element in the principle of AIP that reduces the chance of accidents happening at home, especially when live alone.
With the concept of AIP, Project E-pathy Home (the Project) aims to develop a safe and comfortable accommodation for single elderly living in public housing estate.
The ageing population of Hong Kong is growing rapidly in the last decade and will become an imminent issue in the upcoming future. The society should be well prepared to tackle this foreseeable challenge. In the analysis of the housing profile, we understand that single units in public housing provided by the Housing Authority (HA) in the past are designed without specific concerns for the elderly use. These units, however, are accommodating the majority of the grass-root class “self-cared elderly” who are living by themselves with minimal nursing assistance. Because this elderly group does not own their residences, there are no incentives for any home improvement beyond tolerable standards unless being recommended by social welfare officers. According to the HA’s current practice, these households will only be provided with minimal age-friendly facilities, like handrails, non-slippery tiles, upon official referrals. In other situation, they will be swapped to double-units to enable wheelchair accessibility. For both cases, the solutions are not optimal because the renovation nuisance will occur during the former situation and in the latter excessive spatial resources are consumed. So, within the existing confinement of the unit shell envelop, by rethinking the behavioural modes of the elderly, it is meaningful to challenge what can be remodelled to make the single unit more age-friendly.