As a result of global climate change, the UK is expected to experience hotter and drier summers, and heatwaves are expected to occur with greater frequency, intensity and duration. The UK also currently has a rapidly ageing population; older populations are more vulnerable to climate-induced effects as they are more likely to have underlying chronic health complications, making them more vulnerable to heat stress. The indoor environment is a principle moderator of heat exposure in older populations, who tend to spend the majority of their time indoors. Poor building design, the lack of effective heat management and diverging needs and preferences between staff and residents in care settings may contribute to increased indoor heat exposure with detrimental health impacts falling on the most vulnerable residents. This report presents the aims, objectives, approach and key outcomes of the pilot project Climate Resilience of Care Settings (ClimaCare), an interdisciplinary pilot project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) UK Climate Resilience Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF).
The principal aim of this project is to undertake preliminary work to develop methods that will support a system of care provision in the UK that is adequately prepared for rising heat stress under a changing climate. The project has already undertaken pilot work in five care settings in the UK to monitor the thermal environment and conduct surveys with residents, frontline care staff and care home managers. Within these buildings, work to understand the comfort levels of the residents and staff in relation to the thermal environment was undertaken. Via detailed dynamic thermal modelling work, methods to assess future overheating risk and to assess the effectiveness of overheating mitigation strategies were evaluated. Future overheating risks and their reduction potential through the use of passive strategies were tested under a set of representative climate projections.
Authors: Eleni Oikonomou, UCL; Anna Mavrogianni, UCL; Mike Davies, UCL; Rajat Gupta, Oxford Brookes University; Paul Wilkinson, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine