A Home for Anthony

Presented by: Denise McAllister Wilder, Zoohee Choi

Since 2005, a Midwest nonprofit has been building homes for families who would otherwise be unable to care for their disabled child. Dedicated to keeping a growing child at home rather than in an institution, the foundation provides a quality environment for disabled children who are trapped both physically and financially due to serious injuries or disabilities. Five years after the Long family moved into their new custom home designed and built by the organization, the design team conducted a post-occupancy evaluation (POE). Questions included: how the home impacted the lives of the individual family members, whether the original design intent was adequately realized and specifics on how this fully equipped home is contributing to the quality of life of the family. Information gathered will be used to formulate plans for subsequent homes. Collaborative and transdisciplinary input from the child’s health care team, his parents, as well as his siblings and grandparents created the base upon which the home was designed and subsequently built. Their teamwork served as the key to the success of the home’s design. Now five years later, discussion about the observations made during the POE effort will help attendees better understand the impact and success of specific attributes of the custom built home. As a severely disabled child grows, the caregiving tasks become increasingly difficult. Activities like transferring the child from the wheelchair to the bath and conducting basic floor exercises become harder to manage. By equipping the home with the necessary adaptations, the child is able to stay with their family. The POE strives to determine how well the original design objectives were met as well as which needs identified in the original analysis were successfully conquered, while also uncovering needs that were unanticipated prior to design and construction. Additionally, the POE strives to answer the question of which features played the most significant role in supporting the quality of life and therefore answers which need to be a priority for inclusion in subsequent builds While the focus of this particular project was supporting a child to allow him to grow up in his own home with his parents and siblings, the same accommodations could be utilized in the effort to allow an adult who suffered from a debilitating injury or illness to also live independently. Incorporating medical equipment such as the ceiling lift system that moves a disabled person from bed to shower or toilet can work equally well in a home for a person of any age suffering from a disability or injury. Aging in place is an increasingly sought after goal for individuals as well as in important fiscal societal goal. Interior designers serve as important members of the teams currently working on programs and solutions to insure safe and healthy environments. Looking closely at the original programing documents while analyzing how issues both resolved and unresolved were identified and prioritized in the original design solution helps prepare designers in future programming efforts. Finally, as a collaborative project conducted as a philanthropic effort for a local IIDA chapter, questions regarding the managing of the original project are reflected upon to assist in the management structure of future projects for the foundation.


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