Dementia Centred

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By Ailidh Aikman

September 20th, 2021

Designing Homes for Healthy Cognitive Ageing

What matters to us changes hugely over the course of our lives. Having the right pencil case or lunch box might have been a huge concern when you first went to school, but it probably didn’t matter as much once you became an adult. Moving to an area with easy access to playgrounds and schools might have been important to you when you had children of your own, but become less important once those children were grown, perhaps with children of their own.

What we want and need is always changing, and those changes can become more noticeable as we get older. The DesHCA Project is exploring how people can adapt their homes to make them more supportive as they age.

The Designing Homes for Healthy Cognitive Ageing research project (or DesHCA for short) is an ambitious and innovative UKRI-funded project based out of the University of Stirling. Funded in March 2021, the project is part of a wider programme of research exploring the different ways to support people to have “five extra healthy and independent years of life by 2035”.

DesHCA aims to do this by exploring the different ways that people use and enjoy their homes as they get older and identifying adaptions or changes that could support people to keep doing the things that matter to them as they experience the changes associated with age.

Whether it’s a major change like widening doorways and installing ramps to allow wheelchair access, or small ‘tweaks’ like painting the edge of a garden step, DesHCA is exploring them all.

That’s where we need your help.

DesHCA is a large project, with lots of opportunities for older people, professionals, local authorities, and industry representatives to get involved between now and March 2024.


If you’re an older person:

You can volunteer to enter our pool of 100 households who will be offered the chance to participate in a range of different activities. These range from tapping into your creative side to create a personalised map of your home to show how you think about the different areas, to taking part in interviews with the research team, responding to surveys, or using cutting edge technology to get an in-depth understanding of how you use different areas in your home.

You could volunteer to explore homes of the future using Virtual Reality technology and share your opinions and feedback with us, so that we can adapt our models to better match what real people want and need.

You could attend workshops where we draw together older people with architects, designers, builders, and local authority representatives, to explore the different factors that help or hinder accessible design in new and retrofitted houses.

There are also opportunities to join DesHCA as a voluntary member of our team by becoming a peer researcher working behind the scenes to shape the research itself.


If your work focuses on people's homes and housing needs (whether that is by working in design and construction, working with a local authority, working for the third sector, or being part of another organisation):

You could volunteer to ‘explore’ and respond to model homes while they’re in the planning stages using Virtual Reality technology and provide key feedback that will help shape DesHCA’s designs and recommendations.

You could attend workshops where we draw together older people with representatives from a wide variety of stakeholders, to identify the different factors that influence how we build or adapt homes to support people as they age and to identify the key challenges.

You could attend some of our ‘Knowledge Exchange’ events to learn about how DesHCA’s findings could be incorporated into your practice.

Architects and designers can also volunteer to take part in the ethnographic aspects of the project, where we use interviews and observation to capture the complexities faced by professionals as they seek to translate the idea of a house to a beloved home.


Talk To Us:

If you want to learn more about the DesHCA project, or if you’re interested taking part in the research, you can easily contact the team by email at or check back soon to find links to our website, and our research outputs as we publish them.

Categories: Design