Care provision fit for a future climate

How far are existing care homes and other care provision facilities fit for a future climate?

This new JRF report by Oxford Brookes University and the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster, is one of the first studies to examine the risks of overheating in the UK care sector.

It found that there are already overheating risks in care homes today, which will be exacerbated by climate change. It recommends that designers, development teams, care home managers and staff need to recognise that excessive heat as well as cold can be a health risk. It also recommends enhanced regulations, standards and guidance from key national health and care bodies and central Government.

In particular, it found:

  • summertime overheating is both a current and future risk in care schemes, yet there is currently little awareness or preparedness at all levels, from designers to frontline staff, to implement suitable and long-term adaptation strategies;
  • there is a perception that older people 'feel the cold', but less recognition that heat can also present a significant health risk;
  • design for overheating is not commonplace; there is low prioritisation of overheating and future climate change (in briefing and design);
  • there is a mismatch between the overheating risks predicted by climate modelling and those measured by empirical monitoring, which underplays present-day risks from high temperatures;
  • there is a lack of effective heat management across the case studies due to a number of design and management issues, including lack of investment in appropriate strategies (such as external shading), conflicts between passive cooling strategies and occupant requirements; and
  • collaboration among government departments and professional institutions is necessary to harmonise and standardise health-related and building thermal comfort-related overheating thresholds, with particular consideration for care settings

Accompanying the report, the researchers have published four case studies, two of which - referenced below - assesses the current and future risks of summertime overheating in an extra-care case study scheme in England. It also investigates the preparedness of the extra-care facility against the risk of overheating, now and in the future.

Findings from an extra-care scheme: Case Study C (opens new window)

Findings from an extra-care scheme: Case Study D (opens new window)