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Who are the clients? What do they want?

After meeting Vicky Hiscocks, the Head of Active Ageing at Derwen, I now feel that I understand a lot more about who I am designing for and what they want.

Our client is a dedicated older persons housing association called Derwen. Overall, they provide affordable homes to older people on low incomes. They currently already provide over 158,000 homes in Wales, which is about 10% of the Welsh population. They provide over 800 apartments, bungalows and houses, across Newport, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly.

Derwen logo

Derwen are currently in the middle of developing a brand new development at the Gaer, in Newport – it’s situated right inside the existing bungalow development at the Gaer. Due to be finished at the end of Autumn this year, the Gaer will include 39 apartments, a communal hub, an outside terrace and landscaped gardens.

Derwen’s key ethos is Active Ageing.

What is Active Ageing?

No, it’s not older people doing zumba classes and yoga.

The most simple definition that Vicky used during her presentation is that:

Active Ageing is extending healthy life expectancy and quality of life.”

It can also be described as being:

  • the process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security, in order to enhance quality of life as people age; or
  • continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affair, not just the ability to be physically active.

Vicky also gave us an idea on who are client group is so that we can better understand who our target audience is. Some points on the resident living at Derwen, include:

  • Age range: 55-98 years old (32% are aged 80+)
  • Span 2-3 generations
  • Generally on low incomes
  • Some are still working
  • Both couples and single people (75% of residents live alone)
  • 68% have mobility problems or a long term illness
  • A range of different interests, life experiences and skills

The last bullet point in the list above stands out to me most. I think it’s important to keep in mind that these older people are just like the rest of us, in the way that they are all different and individual, each with their own unique personality and traits. I intend to keep this in mind when it comes to the next few stages of this project.

What the target audience want:

  • To be seen as a resource
  • To have meaningful activities, where skills can be shared
  • To get out and about to see their friends and family (25% of the residents say they only see family, friends or carers, once a week or less)
  • To have companions and happy relationships
  • To have good health, both physical and mental
  • To feel secure and safe
  • To have warm, friendly and well-suited living arrangements
  • Not to be patronised or treated as passive recipients

Active Ageing priorities:

  • Understanding residents (as individuals)
  • Increasing health and wellbeing, reducing loneliness and isolation
  • Embedding active ageing principles across all of their services
  • Evidencing our impact on quality of life
  • Learning, testing, innovating, leading

Derwen’s vision for the new development:

  • A place which maximises independence for the residents.
  • Real opportunities to engage with other residents and the wider community.
  • A development which enhances the existing community at the Gaer.
  • Lots of good quality outdoor space to help avoid isolation and promote good health.
  • A flexible and high standard communal space which will provide a welcoming, central, vibrant focal point for residents and the wider Gaer community.