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AHURI has worked in collaboration with the Summer Foundation to review and analyse the evidence on post-occupancy evaluation (POE) instruments suited to assessing dwellings for people with disability who require high levels of physical support.

Study aim

The evidence review aims to inform development of a rigorous framework for the POE of dwellings for people with disability who require high levels of physical support with a view to enabling providers to continually evaluate and improve the design and suitability of their housing.

POE definition

POE is defined as the process of evaluating buildings in a systematic and rigorous manner after they have been built and occupied for some time. Advancing the design of future housing is generally the impetus for POE, with clients, designers, builders, facilities managers, and other built environment professionals benefiting from the knowledge mined in the POE process.

Research approach

This research focused on diagnostic POEs that examine the objective and subjective interaction between the environment and the occupant. The research initially identified 172 POE studies, 55 of which were selected for analysis, based on their relevance and the rigour of the study. Ten POE instruments were chosen for in-depth analysis based on their currency, relevance and whether the instrument was available to be reviewed (as opposed to descriptive studies about the tool), and whether the tool had been evaluated. The research reviewed POE instruments in relation to five criteria (domains of interest), which are consistent with the Summer Foundation’s aspirational vision for its apartment projects:

  • capacity to enable social inclusion
  • capacity to facilitate physical independence
  • a home-like environment
  • high amenity
  • affordability

The research also considered the overall cost-effectiveness and livability of housing designed for people with disability with high physical support needs.

In addition, the report identifies national and international researchers and leaders in POE of housing for people with a disability.

Two principal factors were used to determine an instrument’s applicability:

  • the instrument’s suitability to the environmental context (focus on built environment and person interaction, entire home design rather than home modifications, applicability to a range of disability types, alignment with domains of interest) AHURI Professional Services 2
  • the demonstrated quality of the instrument in peer-reviewed studies (reliability, validity, conciseness, sensitivity, clinical utility). Appendix 1 provides a summary of POE instruments against evaluation criteria.

Key findings:

Very few POE studies specifically address housing for people with a disability; most of the literature focuses on POE of housing adaptations and home modifications for the elderly and older disabled people. Younger people with a disability have been infrequent participants in these studies.

Each instrument is designed for specific housing contexts (e.g. nursing homes, shared accommodation, home adaptations/modifications) or is intended to inform housing design. Instruments designed for individual homes are more readily applicable to the review context, but instruments that focus on shared homes also contain relevant elements.

No single POE instrument addresses all of the Summer Foundation’s aspirational housing performance domains for people with disability who have high physical support needs. Some instruments targeting home adaptations (Housing Enabler, A Way to Stay) are more likely to address the physical independence and high amenity domains, while other instruments also focusing on home adaptations (REIS and DOHM) focus on the social inclusion and home-like environment domains.

  • Instruments designed for individual homes are more readily applicable to housing for people with disability with high physical support needs, than instruments that focus on shared homes.
  • POE instruments suited to evaluating homes for people with a disability focus on different demographics.
  • The majority focus on housing for elderly people; these include UIMH, DOHM and EVOLVE (designed for use in shared accommodation for older people).
  • Others focus on people with a disability (e.g. A Way to Stay, HoPE, C-CAP) or are adapted for this cohort (REIS).
  • The HQI instrument can be applied to any housing demographic. POE tools are designed for different contexts and purposes, including
  • nursing homes and shared accommodation (EVOLVE, C-CAP, REIS)
  • home adaptations/modifications (Housing Enabler, UIMH, A Way to Stay, HoPE, DOHM, REIS short form)
  • housing design (HQI).
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