Day centres for the elderly : the architectural setting and user requirements
A preliminary examination of day centres for the elderly indicated that there was a lack of detailed research and knowledge relevant to the requirements of users and the design of both social day centres and day care centres. In addition, the potential existed for a mismatch between the changing requirements of the users of social day centres, as they age and become more frail and/or disabled over time and the comparatively static characteristics of architectural setting designed to accommodate independent old people. The aim of this research was to study this problem area in detail. This involved a broad examination of the characteristics of the elderly population and the services provided for them in order to establish the general context in which day centres are provided. This enabled a more detailed investigation to be undertaken and an examination of the different types of day centres provided in terms of the characteristics and the requirements of their elderly users and the architectural settings provided, to be undertaken. From this, three main propositions were formulated. The three main propositions 1, 2 and 3 were tested in a number of comparative case studies based on four day centres which included two social day centres and two day care centres, one of each type was new and one old. Data was collected using a variety of methods on a total of 281 users and 23 staff and four architectural settings. It was found that the fit between the requirements of users and the architectural setting was less close in the old social day centre than in the new social day centre, the new day care centre and the old day care centre, but in all four day centres some constraints were experienced by the users and staff because of some organisational inadequacies and design decisions which indicated a lack of understanding of the users requirements. The conclusions include some design considerations on specific areas of architectural setting in day centres for the elderly providing design information for the design of future day centres.