I'dgo outdoors if I could: wouldn’t you?
In this area of our website you can find out about the questions we asked during our latest phase of research. This phase, called I'DGO TOO, was launched in London in 2007 and the findings reported in Europe House, Headquarters of the European Commission and European Parliament in the UK, on 26th April 2012, in celebration of the European Year for Active Ageing.
To download the headline findings from this phase of the project, plus key messages from both phases, please click here.
To read and download our press release on the launch of the I'DGO TOO findings in London on 26th April, please click here.
To read and download our press release on the presentation of our findings in Scotland on 16th May, please click here.
Having looked at the bigger picture in I'DGO One, we focused, in I'DGO TOO, on specific aspects of placemaking which were gaining currency in policy and practice but which had not yet been tested for age-friendliness. They affect the space afforded to older people close to home, as well as the wider design of streets, neighbourhoods and open spaces. We wanted to know if new-build housing was providing older people with residential outdoor space, and if this mattered, and if ‘DIY’ interventions to make residential streets more pedestrian-friendly were creating ‘shared spaces’ for everyone. We also explored if tactile paving was being designed, sited and laid correctly and if it posed a falls risk to older people.
This element of our study was conducted by OPENspace, the research centre for inclusive access to outdoor environments at The University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. The first longitudinal study of its kind, it looked at how transforming residential streets into less car-centric environments influenced older people’s activity patterns and impacted upon their wellbeing. We wanted to know if living in a pedestrian-friendly street enabled older people to go outside more often, spend more time outside, have better social networks and enjoy an enhanced quality of life. This is a summary of our findings…
Our longitudinal study of ‘DIY Streets’ found that some older residents responded positively to interventions aimed at reducing the dominance of cars, perceiving that they had become more active and that their street was easier to walk on, especially after dark. For others, not being able to park outside their house, for example, was a disincentive to going out at all and limited social contact. Over a three-year period, ‘DIY’ changes did not appear to have as much of an impact on wellbeing, social engagement and quality of life as environmental factors on a wider scale. Many of these relate to local open spaces, such as parks, and safe and enjoyable routes to them; both paths and cycleways.
You can read about the background to the research, and the methods used to collect and analyse data, by downloading our publication Pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods (published March 2010). Full findings will be uploaded to this website later in the year and published journal articles added to the list on our resources page.
Tactile paving design, siting and laying.
This element of our study was conducted by two research teams at the University of Salford: the SURFACE Inclusive Design Research Centre; and the Centre for Health, Sport and Rehabilitation Sciences Research. Combining both ‘real world’ and laboratory-based research by experts in the built environment and biomechanics, it investigated the impact of tactile paving on older adults’ mobility and quality of life. We looked at how blister and corduroy tactile paving is designed, sited and laid and how it is perceived by older people, as well as quantifying the relationship between tactile paving, the biomechanics of walking and risk of falling. This is a summary of our findings…
When we looked at tactile paving, as with road crossings in general, we found that few older people were aware what the different types signified; a challenge exacerbated by incorrect provision. Participants with balance problems told us they often felt unsafe walking on tactile paving and, in our laboratory, it affected the rhythm of our subjects’ gait, indicating that their balance was challenged. Many people found the ‘blisters’ uncomfortable and regarded them as a slip hazard when laid on a steep slope, or when wet or icy; when tested, we found that brass and steel studs had a high slip potential. None of the 30 sites we studied met the recommended Light Reflectance Value, meaning that the tonal contrast between tactile and surrounding paving was insufficient for many visually impaired people.
You can read about the background to the research, and the methods used to collect and analyse data, by downloading our publication Tactile paving design, siting and laying (published March 2010). Full findings will be uploaded to this website later in the year and published journal articles added to the list on our resources page.
Do gardens matter? The role of residential outdoor space.
This element of our study was conducted by the WISE (Wellbeing in Sustainable Environments) research unit at the University of Warwick. It looked at the external realm attached to housing, both in community and care settings, which is often assumed to be ‘surplus to requirements’ for older people, especially in high-density urban areas. We wanted to know if older people do value residential outdoor space, what impact it has on their health and wellbeing and what design features maximise the benefits of getting outdoors at home. This is a summary of our findings…
Our study of recently built housing found that, in 21st century developments, residential outdoor space (ROS) tends to be less green than it was pre-2000 and that the levels of such space in the rising number of homes built specifically for older people is below average. The greatest impact on our participants’ wellbeing came from having their own patio or simply a green view but, while size of ROS wasn’t important, quality and choice was. The more types of ROS participants had, whether owned or shared, the greater their satisfaction. We found that front gardens, in particular, are valued as a place for social interaction and that some of the positive effects of ROS on wellbeing actually strengthen as people age.
You can read about the background to the research, and the methods used to collect and analyse data, by downloading our publication Do gardens matter? (published March 2010). Full findings will be uploaded to this website later in the year and published journal articles added to the list on our resources page.