Many ageing advocates argue that RLTC settings are in locations that sever connections between residents and their community, make inward and outward visiting harder, and make it difficult to integrate the setting with the community.
”The current practice of building nursing homes on green field sites outside villages and towns cuts residents off from community life and social interaction, and isolates those residing in them, thereby lessening their quality of life.(Alone, 2018).
Anderson et al. (2020) note that a RLTC setting located within a residents’ home community may help with a continuity of self through continuity and connected-ness with place or community (Reed et al., 1998). Moreover, according to Christie (2020), a ‘sense of connectedness’ supports resilience in older people, particularly those living with dementia. This highlights the importance of location and connection to family, not only in terms of social interaction, but also in terms of a resident’s resilience and their ability to adapt to adversity.
Community Proximity and Access
- Settings that are located centrally within a community will benefit from proximity and access to the community, local amenities, services, local parks, green spaces, public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure.
- Connection and engagement with the community also depends on how the setting is managed and operated. At all times resident autonomy should be respected, and any community engagement should be appropriate to the resident and a matter of resident choice.
- When choosing a location for a new RLTC setting (new-build or repurposing of existing building), proximity to the community, services, public transport, and ease of access should be considered.
- For existing settings, careful consideration should be given to location to ensure that the setting is maximising its relationship with the community in terms of social interaction and inclusion in community life.
- For new-build and existing settings, knowledge about the location and adjacent local community will also inform design and operational decisions around infection control and community interaction during a pandemic.
- Providing a pleasant, safe, and accessible public realm with good walking and cycling routes, and easy access to public transport for residents, staff, and visitors (often older people) improves the quality of life for those in RLTC settings. This may be feasible or appropriate for urban settings, but many of these public realm issues should also be considered in villages, towns, and suburbs.
- While these issues are outside the scope of most retrofit projects, setting owners or managers should be aware of these issues and should liaise with the local authority to highlight these issues if required, and to request local improvements.
- In some circumstances, where a setting is located within a larger development, the setting may have greater influence over the design, management and maintenance of the local public realm and should use this influence to improve the safety, accessibility, and attractiveness of the public spaces adjacent to the setting.
- Air quality at a neighbourhood scale is a quality of life, infection control, and resilience issue. RLTC settings should be located within neighbourhoods or locations with good air quality. Local authorities or developers can help to improve local air quality by reducing vehicle traffic (i.e., low vehicle environments through greater active travel via walking and cycling infrastructure and public transport) to minimise vehicle related pollution, and control local harmful emissions.