Town Centre Living ‘ A Caring Place’ Advisory Group Workshop Notes – Part 2

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Town Centre Living: We are developing and inviting a conversation on a Caring Place through our social media channels and on this website. What does a caring place look like? How can we use design to help create a caring place? What value does design bring?  As part of this conversation an Advisory Group workshop was held in March 2018 to help explore issues relating to care and place in town centres. The session brought together different disciplines exploring policy, practice and place communities, offering opportunities for sharing and capturing knowledge and potential for developing pilots.

This three-part summary note aims to capture the key messages coming out of the session, as well as some potential actions that were discussed. The first part discussed what makes a Caring Place; this second installment sets out some issues and opportunities; the third part will follow up with potential actions.

What are the opportunities and barriers to achieving a caring place?

What was it that drew people together during the snow brought by the ‘Beast from the East’? Crisis’ help people think creatively, shrinking community boundaries, encouraging people to act, come up with local solutions. But, resilience varies between communities.

Scotland is a country of lots of small communities. People move in and out in different ways. So, work with the ‘granularity’ of life and places. Build a sense of independence with sociable clusters at a scale that is manageable to a community. Something they feel they can influence, not too big. Something that can happen over time.

Capture the ‘authentic hopes’ of communities. Find out what older people think. Support early, genuine and meaningful conversations to structure ambitions to decision makers.

“how do you enable a community to express its health and social care needs?”

Create intergenerational places. Bring care and nurseries together, and local jobs. Tap into the assets of the ‘older’.  Enable communities of interest, and naturally occurring communities, like the NORC’s in New York. No silos outside town.

But, a ‘shared’ solution is not a catch-all solution. Sometimes people need privacy, to be on their own and escape. And, spaces need to flex to changing needs through life, short and long term. There also needs to be flexibility for different ages, stages and cultures. Allow for a gradation of choices where people understand the rules of engagement. Celebrate the sharing. Mind the clashes.

“Just because everyone is old doesn’t mean they’ll like each other!

And, it may not be achievable to sustain every cluster of people as a sustainable community. There can be interdependencies across local authority boundaries, communities in a bigger geography working together. We need to think what scale is viable, and accessible for people across communities. And the right scale of decision making, regional and local.

“maximise personal choices”

Break out of either the ‘family home’ or ‘care home’. Address the need for step down accommodation, the bridge from hospital to home. Re-think the psychology of home ‘owning’ to ‘usership. People want to hand on wealth. Challenge unintegrated single entity housing.

Care for the physical environment too. Address town centre blight. Make destinations, interesting places for visitors to come and spend time, and money. But, part of the issue is how existing housing is clustered and used and how we interact with it.

And, often, the social landscape isn’t well understood. And there are system barriers, and limitations on making use of existing buildings. And how we build and design can stop integration in the community, hide things.

Town Centre Living: A Caring Place

Town Centre Living: How we can use design to help create a caring place? What value does design bring? Join the conversation!

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