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.

older couple holding a model house

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