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All about housing for seniors and those with special needs

Braille-enabled elevators, disabled-friendly toilets and wheelchair access - developers are focusing on a much-neglected clientele

real estate Updated: Sep 17, 2016 17:41 IST
Braille-enabled elevators, disabled-friendly toilets and wheelchair access - developers are focusing on  housing for the elderly and those with special needs.
Braille-enabled elevators, disabled-friendly toilets and wheelchair access - developers are focusing on housing for the elderly and those with special needs.(HT)

Housing options for seniors and those with special needs have undergone a massive makeover ever since senior living projects were first launched in India. Braille-enabled elevators, handrails and wheelchair access – buildings are getting facilities which enable people who need care to live in comfort. Special services of social workers and wellness experts are also provided. Care home, an additional facility, is also included to help those who need special care and can no longer can be looked after by family members.

“We have a care floor at our senior living project in Bhiwadi in Rajasthan and we plan to construct a separate care home for our upcoming project, Ashiana Nirmay, in the same area. This will have a physiotherapist, an OPD, a 24x7 medical staff and ambulances,” says Ankur Gupta, joint managing director, Ashiana Housing Ltd.

Luxury complex Vivarea in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, comes equipped with ramps, disabled-friendly toilets and elevators with audio systems and Braille stickers. “We also make sure that the meeting rooms and recreation areas are accessible,” says Kishore Bhatija, managing director - real estate development at K Raheja Corp.

Ashiana, which has facilities such as call bells, handrails and anti-skid tiles in its housing units, will set up gyms manned by staff trained in geriatrics. It will also offer internal and external transportation to residents. Common kitchens will be set up and concierge services provided. Social workers and wellness experts will be on call to help the elderly deal with problems of old age, loneliness and memory loss. Gupta says a tie-up has been done with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) to treat residents with mental and physical health problems. A 140-hour certification course on care giving is also provided at Ashiana at its Bhiwadi facility.

The group has projects in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, and will be launching one in Kolkata soon. Apartments in Ashiana Nirmay in Bhiwadi, to be ready by 2017, are priced between Rs 45 lakh and Rs 70 lakh.

Tata Housing has launched Riva Residences – an integrated residential complex in Bengaluru. The complex has a well-equipped gym, reading room, multi-purpose lounge and a host of other amenities such as concierge and housekeeping services. The clubhouse has a recreational therapist at all times, says Rajeeb Dash, AVP sales and marketing, Tata Housing Development Company Limited.

At Mahindra Lifespace’s upcoming residential project Vivante in Andheri, and existing Splendour in Bhandup and Eminente in Goregaon, there are dedicated parking areas for the disabled. “We have ramps leading to lobbies and club houses across the project,” says Jaimin Desai, head of design at the projects. “The toilets have wider doors to accommodate wheelchairs and matte-finish floor tiles to prevent slipping.”

At Chandivli’s Nahar Amrit Shakti by Nahar Developers, there are ramps for wheelchair bound along with non-slippery grab bars for senior citizens. “All the floor areas are well-illuminated with night lamps, and there is an area for senior citizens where they can socialise,” says Manju Yagnik, vice-chairperson, Nahar Group.

The project includes a medical centre with a full-time nurse. Casa Rare, an upcoming residential project by Geopreneur Group in Borivali, offers support rods and slopes for wheelchairs. “Integrating these facilities in the project does not need much additional investment,” says Ajay Agarwal, partner at Geopreneur design studio, the architectural segment of the group. “On an average, there are two senior members in a family of five, which makes up a modern nuclear family. So, almost 10% of our residents will utilise these facilities.”

“There is growing awareness about the need for such facilities among developers, and accessible amenities are growing more common in newer projects,” says Shubika Bilkha, business head, The Real Estate Management Institute, a Mahalaxmi-based real-estate education provider. “However, it is still a nascent segment for developers.”

A report by the UN Population Fund and HelpAge India in 2011 estimated that by 2026, there will be approximately 170 million senior citizens living in India. “Of these, about 30 million senior citizens currently live alone,” says Bilkha. “Moreover, 2% of India’s population suffers from one or other form of disability. This makes it imperative for developers to make projects better equipped and more accessible.” The concept of offering accessible facilities is popular in the West, says Anurag Jhanwar, business head – consulting and data insights at real-estate consultancy PropTiger.

“Although we have a large population in both sections, it is still an evolving market in India.” “Such projects will attract buyers too, affecting 8% to 9% of the total population. The target audience will also bring their families and larger support groups along,” says Piyush Gandhi, national director of project and development services at realty consultancy JLL India. Anil Bhaskaran, an architect and urban planner from Bengaluru, says, “To cater to the needs of the disabled, projects should have good air circulation, few barriers in the interior design, and proximity to hospitals.”

With inputs from Lavina Mulchandani and Anubhuti Matta in Mumbai