After celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the Practice in December, February 2013 marks another auspicious event for me: I hit 60 this month. I’m looking forward to some good old, healthy reminiscing with friends and family as I celebrate my birthday; with my years and sagacity I’ll have the world put to rights in no time!
I’m always taken aback by the fact that I am now in the ‘demographic’ for ‘Sheltered Care’ – everyone over 55 is, a fact that most of the 55 year olds I know will find laughable, even horrifying. But that reaction would illustrate quite graphically the dilemma faced by Care Providers – and their Designers. After all, my generation likes to think that they’re sophisticated and discerning and Care Providers must think the same because they’re recognising the need to consider and cater to their Clients’ taste and lifestyle, rather than expecting the Client to simply accept what they’re offered. As part of the group they’re thinking about and trying to provide for, I find that encouraging.
As a Practice, we recently submitted our entry to a McCarthy and Stone competition to design sheltered housing for the over 55 year olds. I found it very hard to imagine what sort of space I would be willing to consider as my downsized, ‘sheltered’ home. The more things I thought of, the more prohibitive the costs would have been – always assuming that a big enough site would be available to build on! With divorce and remarriage a fact of life today, the extended family can be pretty impressive, so how much space do you need to entertain? Families are often spread over the country and can’t just pop in for a short visit, so how much room to allow family or friends to stay over? All difficult questions to answer, and tricky to find a living and, of course, cost-effective solution for.
I’ve extolled the virtues of some of my Care Clients before, but I‘ll keep doing it because too often we just hear about the depressing and the shocking side of Care when it fails. Too often, the suggestion is that ‘profit’ equals ‘greed’ equals ‘Private Operators’. And, of course, there are some Operators who should not be in the business of Care, but plaudits are seldom given to the Operators who provide an excellent product, by way of first-rate Care and complete respect for their Clients (and Staff). They’ve carefully built up a reputation that has people choosing their Care over others, be it in Sheltered accommodation or in a Care Home, and should rightfully be proud of what they offer.
Like most people, the idea of ending my days in Care of any kind doesn’t appeal very much but, if it happens, I’ve an idea what I’ll be looking out for: I’m one of those discerning, sophisticated over 55 year olds, after all!