No Place Like Home

Reprinted from PN October 2012

Universal Design in housing can allow everyone the opportunity to achieve activities of daily living at home with more self-reliance and independence. This allows them to stay in their own homes longer.

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Incorporating basic Universal Design (UD) planning and details into a home helps people in wheelchairs live a better, easier and more independent life. It also can help save a lot of money and create jobs.

By creating a $20,000 and $2,000 tax incentive for home remodels and new home construction, respectively, that incorporate UD, the U.S. could extend and even save hundreds of billions of dollars in long-term healthcare dollars. This would re-boot housing construction, fuel the economy and create new jobs all at the same time.

This article is based on the premise that UD in housing, when successfully implemented, can allow everyone the opportunity to achieve activities of daily living (ADLs) at home with more self-reliance and independence, thus allowing them to stay in their own homes longer and avoid or postpone institutional and other more costly long-term living arrangements.

A 2001 Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies study titled Aging in Place reads “Aging in Place (AIP) with supportive services is the most desirable way of aging. Successful AIP strategies minimize the provision of inappropriate care and therefore overall costs.”

Your Tax Dollars

UD in housing functions “to the greatest extent possible for people of all ages and abilities.” AIP is similar and includes the basic spatial and detail parameters of UD, but focuses more on housing design solutions for the aging population.

On the other hand, full accessibility may encompass both but will typically go a step further with home design that will assist a specific individual achieve his or her specific ADLs at home. The common denominator is UD.

It is also referred to as Inclusive, Life Span, Multi-Generational, Adaptable and Better Living Home Design, among others. It is known as Flex Housing in Canada. The truth is: UD is all of the above.

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No Place Like Home


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