Housing Design for Brain Health and Ageing
On June 21, the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) and Respond Housing hosted the first in a series of seminars exploring brain health and housing. The seminar series aims to advance our understanding of brain health as it applies to housing design, care provision and homeless services. This first seminar, Design for Ageing, was launched by Darragh O’Brien, T.D., Irish Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Design for Ageing explored the biomedical, social, design, and community considerations of age-adapted living including the relationship between brain health and the built environment and how green innovations can help older adults live healthier and happier lives. It was an action-oriented session, which aimed to discuss, generate and disseminate best practice in the field.
The keynote speakers were Greg Walsh and Fiona Walsh Co-Founders of DDS Architects and Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health at GBHI and Rutger de Graaf, Innovation Manager in the Dutch health care organizations Pennemes and Het Mennistenerf. They were joined by panelists including Bernice Werle (Geriatrician and Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health), Suzanne Timmons (Clinical Lead, National Dementia Office), Marissa Plouin (Housing Policy Analyst, OECD), Nora Owen (Former Minister for Justice and Carer) and Tom Grey (Research Fellow, TrinityHaus Research Centre).
The event was chaired by Aine Kerr, journalist and co-founder of Kinzen.
Ian Robertson, Co-Director of GBHI and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Trinity College, said:
"GBHI and Respond have joined forces to advocate for brain health as a value that everyone can aspire to.
We are thrilled to be launching our new seminar series which will bring together experts in the fields of brain health and housing. Our brains are physically shaped by the environments we create for ourselves because of neuroplasticity. For example, our social interactions change key hormones in the brains, and some built environments trigger stresses that negatively affect our brains. Hence our physical, mental and brain health depend crucially on the communities and buildings we inhabit."
Declan Dunne, CEO of Respond, said Respond are keen to share the learnings of their partnership with others.
"Respond provide social housing to over 13,000 tenants across the 26 counties. We are also a service provider of homeless services, childcare services, daycare for older people, refugee resettlement and family support services. Respond is deeply committed to supporting older tenants and service users. We run three daycare centres for older people in Cork and Dublin.
Respond and GBHI have formed a strong partnership based on shared values and vision. This values-based approach is what makes our collaboration successful – guiding each organization and unifying not only our goals but how we achieve them. This seminar is an opportunity for everybody who cares about brain health to learn new information that can be practically applied to housing, to communities, to neighborhoods and to your own health."
A video recording of the event is available here.
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About the Seminar Series
The Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) and Respond are delighted to co-host a series of seminars which will advance our understanding of brain health as it applies to housing design, care provision and homeless services. Seminars will bring together leading brain health and housing experts to examine:
- The design of housing services in the context of ageing and dementia.
- Promoting brain health, across the life-course, and developing sustainable communities.
- Equity, brain health and housing.
- The human perspective of brain health issues for both housing service users and providers.
Design for Ageing
Please join us for the inaugural seminar, 21 June, which will explore the biomedical, social, design, and community considerations of age-adapted living including the relationship between brain health and the built environment and how green innovations can help older adults live healthier and happier lives.
It will be an action-oriented session, aiming to discuss, generate and disseminate best practice in the field.
This opening seminar will be launched by Darragh O’Brien, T.D., Irish Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and will be chaired by Aine Kerr, journalist and co-founder of Kinzen.
OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Policy Briefs: A crisis on the horizon: Ensuring affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities.
Bibliography of scientific articles that show different benefits of nature in aged care.
Ian Robertson – Co-Director, Global Brain Health Institute
Ian Robertson is a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist with a unique ability to apply his research to real world problems. He is Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Trinity College and was the founding Director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, as well as Dean of Research of Trinity College.
Declan Dunne – CEO, Respond
Declan Dunne joined Respond as Chief Executive Officer in August 2016. Declan’s previous role was Chief Executive Officer with Sophia Housing Association. He served as a Director of the North Dublin Development Coalition at DCU for nine years, was a non-executive Director of the Ballymun Regeneration Board for ten years and was a Director of Ballymun Whitehall Enterprise Centre for ten years. Declan was Chair of the Housing Alliance from 2018 to 2020.
Greg Walsh and Fiona Walsh – Co-Founders, DDS Architects, Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health
Talk Title – "The Relationship between Brain Health and the Built Environment"
Greg and Fiona Walsh are co-founders of DDS Architects, specialising in evidence-based dementia inclusive design, where they design aesthetically beautiful buildings and interiors that are enabled for people living with cognitive, sensory and/or physical impairments and people in later life. They completed the Atlantic Fellows program at GBHI in 2019 where they advanced the understanding of the relationship between brain health and architecture.
Greg and Fiona advocate on the topic of Dementia Inclusive Design with the Irish and UK governments, WHO, World Dementia Council, LSE, NHS, HSE, NDO, ADI, Irish Dementia Working Group. Publications include ‘Late Life Brain Health Architecture’ in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and a recent article for Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) on designing dementia-inclusive environments.
Rutger de Graaf – Innovation Manager, Pennemes and Het Mennistenerf
Talk Title – "Nature Assisted Health Innovations in Elderly Care"
Dr. Rutger de Graaf works as innovation manager in the Dutch health care organizations Pennemes and Het Mennistenerf. More than 1500 people live, work, eat and receive care in these centres. These centres function as testing grounds for nature-assisted innovations.
Berenice Werle – Geriatrician, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health
Berenice Werle is a geriatrician, Vice President of the state section of the Brazilian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology, and Director of the Moriguchi Institute. Berenice participates in support groups for caregivers and family members of patients with dementia, teaching classes with guidance. She is working on a population project to create a friendly environment for people with dementia.
Suzanne Timmons – Clinical Lead, National Dementia Office
Prof. Suzanne Timmons is Clinical Lead for the Irish National Dementia Office, academic geriatrician in the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation, University College Cork (UCC), and Programme Coordinator for the MSc Dementia and MSc Older Person Rehabilitation, UCC. Her research includes health service evaluation/planning and interdisciplinary research in dementia, delirium, and Parkinson's disease. She was senior author on Cluid’s “A Home for Life” report (2015).
Marissa Plouin – Housing Policy Analyst, OECD
Marissa Plouin is a lead analyst for the OECD’s work on affordable housing, and manages the OECD Affordable Housing Database in the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. In over ten years at the OECD, she has worked with national, regional and city governments around housing and urban policies. Prior to her current role, she contributed to the OECD’s cross-cutting work on Inclusive Growth in the Office of the Secretary-General.
Nora Owen – Former Irish Minister for Justice
Nora Owen was an Irish politician for over 20 years. She was elected to the Dáil in 1981–2002 where she chaired the Parliamentary Overseas Aid Committee and vice-chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee. She served as Spokesperson for the Opposition in a number of portfolios – Health, Overseas Aid, Foreign Affairs, Enterprise and Employment. Nora was Deputy Leader of Fine Gael (1993–2001) and Minister of Justice (1994–1997).
Tom Grey – Research Fellow, TrinityHaus Research Centre, Trinity College
Tom Grey is a Research Fellow in TrinityHaus Research Centre and works at the intersection of architectural design, urbanism and universal design to examine how the built environment can support health and well-being, inclusion, and social participation. Creating age-attuned and healthful environments for older people is a key research area with recent projects focusing on housing and dementia and dementia-inclusive communities.