HomeResearchProjectsAgeing, housing and environment. Qualitative research report

Ageing, housing and environment. Qualitative research report


 Investigador principal: Mayte Sancho
 Equipo: Mayte Sancho, Javier Yanguas, Elena del Barrio, Diego Herranz, Unai Díaz

This project is a contribution to the development and refinement of the model of care for elderly people currently being developed by different institutions and agents in Spain, the so-called integrated model based on the person1. According to this new paradigm, care for the elderly who need help significantly improves when it is possible to the meet personal expectations of every elderly person and also when taking into account factors that include the concept of quality of life, overcoming services that focus on health care. Throughout this whole project, the plot of factors involving a person's life throughout their ageing process that has to do with their residential and care needs are analysed. It has been attempted to create a descriptive map of the different dimensions involved when configuring a high-quality life system, according to what those who are undergoing the ageing process say, in addition to a sample of experts who work in sectors linked to said process.

This project shows that in said process, the territorial unit in which the elderly live is a fundamental resource on which to intervene to support the various physical and emotional adjustments that are required as they reach old age. A territorial unit that is complex, and that is not confined to the home as an isolated entity, but rather that encompasses other dimensions, such as the neighbourhood, the body, the dynamic between the inputs and outputs of the home, the connection to the world in general, etc.

Collaboration agreement between the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs of the Basque Government and the Fundación Matia Gerontological Institute.


Primary objective:

  • What expectations are being formed by the population of the Basque Country about the housing and care that they will need during the ageing process?
  • What role do homes and environments serve in this process today? What will they accomplish in the future?
  • What level of awareness exists about the problems of dependent life? What aspects (values, images, ideas, etc.) are now contributing to that awareness about the problems of "old age"?

Secondary Objectives:

  • Habits and culture of everyday life.
  • Home today and as a resource in the ageing process.
  • Role of habitat environments: neighbourhoods.
  • Who they are and how agents of care are assessed: families, social network, caregivers, institutions, etc.
  • Accommodation possibilities and services in the future.
  • Knowledge and assessment of the housing model. 


The model proposes that improving two essential aspects can greatly increase the quality of life of older people who need help throughout their ageing cycle: on the one hand, increasing opportunities in which the elderly person makes decisions about issues that affect their daily life, and on the other hand, based on the care and environmental design initiatives on factors that are not limited to mere health care, but that also include other dimensions that play an important role in the ageing process, such as emotional wellbeing, personal development, interpersonal relationships, etc. And above all, throughout the research the existential dimension of the elderly person has been highlighted, which has traditionally been regarded as the spiritual level of the person, involving asking about the meaning of life for these people.

The design of the accommodation and care system initiatives in the future (including initiatives for private households) should, at all times, take this fact into account and consider that an essential aspect is to provide the user, the elderly person, with tools that enable him/her to understand what it means to live in the environment in which their life develops. The accommodations, environments, and care system should be designed to enrich and thicken the experience of the place in which people live, providing an anchor and a link with the world, and generally, with life, to compensate or even beneficially reinterpret the difficulties facing the person of increasingly higher ages, with the proximity of death as backdrop for the entire process.

In this sense, of the interviews carried out, it shows that the meaning of life that is being built today by the generations that are going to be elderly in the next few years, is marked by this broad idea of ​​the quality of life, compared to a smaller or more functional concept, such as health, "biological" and functional aspects (such as architectural accessibility).


2012 to 2014

Project status



Elena del Barrio
Elena del Barrio Co-director - Researcher
Mayte Sancho
Mayte Sancho Expert in gerontological planning

Line of Knowledge