Details on article
|Author||Van Steenwinkel, I.; De Casterlé, B., D.; Heylighen, A.|
|Title||How architectural design affords experiences of freedom in residential care for older people.|
Van Steenwinkel, I., de Casterlé, B. D., & Heylighen, A. (2017). How architectural design affords experiences of freedom in residential care for older people. Journal of aging studies, 41, 84-92.
|Keywords||architectural design; residential care facility; older people; experience; freedom; care visions
|Link to article|| https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2017.05.001
|Abstract||Human values and social issues shape visions on dwelling and care for older people, a growing number of whom live in residential care facilities. These facilities' architectural design is considered to play an important role in realizing care visions. This role, however, has received little attention in research. This article presents a case study of a residential care facility for which the architects made considerable effort to match the design with the care vision. The study offers insights into residents' and caregivers' experiences of, respectively, living and working in this facility, and the role of architectural features therein. A single qualitative case study design was used to provide in-depth, contextual insights. The methods include semi-structured interviews with residents and caregivers, and participant observation. Data concerning design intentions, assumptions and strategies were obtained from design documents, through a semi-structured interview with the architects, and observations on site. Our analysis underlines the importance of freedom (and especially freedom of movement), and the balance between experiencing freedom and being bound to a social and physical framework. It shows the architecture features that can have a role therein: small-scaleness in terms of number of residents per dwelling unit, size and compactness; spatial generosity in terms of surface area, room to maneuver and variety of places; and physical accessibility. Our study challenges the idea of family-like group living. Since we found limited sense of group belonging amongst residents, our findings suggest to rethink residential care facilities in terms of private or collective living in order to address residents' social freedom of movement. Caregivers associated ‘hominess’ with freedom of movement, action and choice, with favorable social dynamics and with the building's residential character. Being perceived as homey, the facility's architectural design matches caregivers' care vision and, thus, helped them realizing this vision.
|Metodology||The first author collected data and analyzed them in collaboration with the second and third author, and is henceforth referred to as “the researcher.” Because we aim to articulate an in-depth understanding of architecture's role in people's experiences, the research consists of a case narrative with a critical realist and constructionist (Crotty, 1998) approach. Two data gathering techniques were used: participant observation and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with residents and caregivers. For interview preparation and for contextual information, data concerning design intentions, assumptions and strategies were obtained from the design brief, and architects' design contest submission, and through a semi-structured interview with them, and observations on site.
|Findings||We aimed to gain insight into residents' and caregivers' experiences living and working in a residential care facility and the role of architectural features therein. Our analysis foregrounds an urge for emancipation, reflected in experiences of freedom of movement, action and choice, and social freedom of movement; values of high importance to residents and caregivers. However, for most residents, these forms of freedom were only available within the boundaries of the facility – a collective housing setting – to which they had been assigned. Our study shows how freedom can be enhanced by architectural features like small-scaleness, generosity and accessibility, while continuously balancing freedom, on the one hand, and safety and support on the other. Our study challenges the idea of family-like group living. Since we found limited sense of group belonging amongst residents, our findings suggest to rethink residential care facilities in terms of private or collective living in order to address residents' social freedom of movement. ‘Hominess’ in caregivers' accounts referred to freedom of movement, action and choice, to favorable social dynamics and the building's residential character. Being homey to caregivers, Heather House's architectural design matched their vision on dwelling and care and, thus, helped them realizing this vision.
|Search Database||Researcher knowledge
|Technique||Case study; Semi-structured interviews; Observation; QUAGOL|