Minister Mc Entee TD today launched new housing design guidelines for mental health users. This valuable piece of research is the result of collaboration between the HSE Mental Health Division, and the Housing Agency. The authors are Emer Whelan HSE, Aine O’Reilly HSE and Isoilde Dillon of the Housing Agency.
Key recommendations highlighted in this important report include:-
- Choice – a person’s choice of where to live is a foremost consideration.
- Design participation – involving a person in the design process and fully understanding their needs is essential.
- Cognition – a well-designed environment using principles of universal design and assistive technology can help people with cognitive disability to overcome some of their specific difficulties.
- Physical Health – Many people with mental health conditions have also got co-existing physical ailments. Therefore, creating accessible environments to meet the totality of the person’s needs is important.
- Social Factors – Staying connected with friends and family are essential to a person’s circle of support. Access to amenities and services is vital. Housing should not be separate from other housing in a community, balanced with protecting a person’s anonymity and privacy in individual circumstances.
- Environmental Factors – it is widely recognised that colour and works of art can be mood enhancing and lessen anxiety in healthcare settings. Natural light should be prioritised and integrated into any design for mental health service users.
The Minister stated, “I am delighted to launch these important new housing design guidelines that aim to better promote independent living and move certain categories of mental health users away from out-dated models of care such as congregated settings. This report represents a world first in terms of its focus on home design that improves independent living and better quality of life for people with mental health issues. In particular, it points the way to how inter-agency co-operation, in this case involving already established links between the HSE and the Housing Agency, can continue to realise practical change, thereby enhancing daily activities for many vulnerable people and assisting them to optimum mental health recovery”.