Adult granddaughter supporting her senior grandmother when taking her for walk with walker in the park during summer. They are surrounded by trees and pink flowers. 
Everybody can experience healthy ageing. Being free of disease or infirmity is not a prerequisite to healthy ageing, as many older adults have one or more health conditions that, when well controlled, have little influence on their wellbeing.
World Health Organization
Healthy ageing is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives.
Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth, is part of the UK team working on an International Standards Organisation programme for designing neighbourhoods that care. This is a two to three-year programme that includes:
  • Reimagining our Neighbourhoods of the Future necessitaties and agreeing what best practice looks like, through a process of multistakeholder engagement, collective dialogue and co-creation.
  • Developing a new ISO standard, relating to the design, creation, operation and maintenance of 'Neighbourhoods that care'.
  • Aiming to normalise the creation of smart multigenerational neighbourhoods, where putting people and the planet's needs as a priority leads to a better quality of life, together with new business models, technologies, service offerings, attitudes and behaviours.

Setting the scene

Suitable homes are crucial for health and wellbeing throughout our lives, and even more so, when we grow older and become frail.
  • An increasing body of evidence indicates that multigenerational interaction is beneficial for people of all ages, however there is still a lack of evidence as to what good looks like, making it hard for central and local government, business and industry to plan with any degree of certainty.
  • To this end AAA has joined forces with ISO – the International Organization for Standardization – to convene a new standard framework – and a voluntary Code of Conduct – for Smart Multigenerational Neighbourhoods.
  • In scoping out this standard, we will reimagine homes and neighbourhoods that are more accessible and enabling, adapting to different stages of life and ever-changing human requirements.
  • Given the increasing needs of society following the pandemic, this standard should make our communities more resilient to similar disruption in future.

Collective responsibility

Cocreating a new standard.
  • ISO 25553 Scope: Accelerate construction of a new breed of age-friendly housing in 'smart' socially supportive multigenerational neighbourhoods, employing innovative technologies, business and service models, to improve health and wellbeing, protect the environment, and reduce the financial burden on Citizens and State.
  • Too many current initiatives are single sector led; exploring solutions in 'silos' which will reduce their adoption.
  • This project aims to actively encourage collaborative research, design, development, and commercialisation.
  • Promoting an open innovation eco-system approach to maximise societal and business impact.
  • A global challenge of this magnitude cannot be resolved through the lens of a single sector or discipline.
Blonde mature woman in eyeglasses wearing a grey pullover looking at her neighbours while talking over a garden fence

By pooling research, expertise and insights, participating stakeholders have the opportunity to revolutionise the design of our age-friendly neighbourhoods at both the micro and macro levels.

Primary goals

  • Improve the capacity for older adults to live well and thrive in "blended" communities, enabled through smart tech and personalised care to achieve optimum outcomes for people living with disabilities and/or chronic conditions.
  • Generate evidence-based guidance to inform industry and bridge developing technologies with real-life home health needs (actual and preventative).
  • Define guidelines for digital infrastructure so that smart technologies can be easily and invisibly weaved into new housing, health and care centres and neighbourhood construction. 
  • Give due consideration to retrofitting and remodelling. 
  • Develop new business, service and financial models; taking account of ethics, privacy, security, and governance related issues.
  • Establish a voluntary Code of Conduct.
  • ENSURE THE PROCESS IS EQUITABLE; benefitting high, and low-income regions, countries and communities alike.

Guidelines for digital infrastructure

  • Need for interoperable infrastructure, serving as a landing and a footing for current and future technologies to be easily and invisibly weaved into housing and neighbourhood development Future proofed "Digital Plumbing" renders homes and buildings ready for deployments of specialised solutions, fit for current and future home-owner's needs and conditions; 
    • addresses a critically absent link between smart tech and housing by defining who does what, when, and where; 
    • this 'Role Model' approach will harmonise and guide the cooperation and engagement of architects, urban and city planners, builders, technology and service providers, etc.
  • Critically we want to explore older individuals' perspectives to determine how best to foster age-friendly environments through the provision of enabling digital technologies. 
  • The aim is to underpin innovation in adjacent technologies and in 'best practice', necessary to build sustainable health, care (and increasingly wellbeing and preventative) service design for the future.

Status and next steps 

  • February 2022: Published ISO Ageing Societies report Cultivating Neighbourhoods That Care: A manifesto for change.
  • Oct 26 2022: AAA ISO Leaders Forum – at NatWest HQ. Hybrid stakeholder engagement event in partnership with UN Habitat, Connected Places Catapult, and 'SHAPES' Smart and Healthy Ageing through People Engaging in Supportive Systems, a Horizon 2020 large scale demonstrator project.
  • Q1 2023: Cultivating Neighbourhoods That Care II report, to include original peer reviewed research and Code of Conduct.
  • 2022/25: Ongoing global consultation. ISO standards framework in committee stage. Standard likely to be published Summer 2025.