June 17, 2020

Prefabricated smart homes for seniors in rural Alberta communities

Tiny homes for seniors

CALGARY -- They’re called FABhomes and were designed by John Brown the Dean of Architecture at the University of Calgary. His idea has taken about four years to become reality and now the town of Bassano, Alta. will be the first to get them for its aging population.

“A FABhome is a bridge between an individual's home and and the care home,” said Brown. “We’re extending through an assisted independent living the ability for them to remain in the community.”

The prefabricated homes are about the size of a one bedroom apartment at 54 square metres (580 square feet). But they’re smart with a digital support system built right in that has behavioural monitoring.  Brown compares the finished units to a medical device.

“We have a floor that we’ve put in, a compliant floor system, that reduces the injury that comes from a fall by about 70 per cent,” said Brown. “We have sit stand counters in the bathroom and the kitchen so you can adjust the height of the work surface to your needs.”

“It’s predictive of potential problems so that’s one of the advantages of the technology that he’s using,” said Bassano mayor Ron Wickson. “It’s a way of telling us before something happens that something is happening.”

Wickson has seven FABhomes on order. He says the town will be the first rural community to have the homes. He’s planning for them to be installed near the community centre because he says it’s under utilized.

“We think that this would be a better way of making some more use of it and really add to the flavour of the village by having a meeting room and a few out door amenities,” said Wickson.

Brown says it’s hard to calculate an exact price of a unit because rural communities have various options on models and lease or purchase plans to make them affordable.

“Just because we’ve gotten old and frail doesn’t mean we need to live in something that looks like a hospital,” said Brown. “It needs to provide those supports but it needs to do it seamlessly in a way that you don’t even notice.”

Learn more about FABhome here:  www.fabhome.ca