A. Szewczenko, I. Benek

Silesian Univeristy of Technology (POLAND)
Phenomena of aging in European society leads to a number of challenges and necessary changes i.e. in spatial and architectural solutions, social policy, in healthcare systems and in services section. One of the most significant premises is necessity of keep in good psychophysical condition the elderly as long as possible. Moreover, there is necessity of enhancing when possible the functional abilities and social activity of older people and their access to good quality of medical services.

The geriatric hospital is an important factor of keeping elderly in good health condition. Not only the good quality of geriatric hospital gives the possibility of reducing costs of hospitalization, but also potentially might be realized the following aims:
- growth of hospitalization efficiency and bringing back/keep the elderly in their living environment,
- shaping the better quality of life,
- implementation or consolidation of institutional support for geriatric healthcare facilities.

There is a need of interdisciplinary approach in research on appropriate dimension for geriatric hospital. These kind of medical facilities realise their tasks in specific urban and architectural circumstances, medical and rehabilitation or social area.
The need of extension of the geriatric hospital in Katowice results in the cooperation with the Faculty of Architecture, Silesian University of Technology. The study of existing hospital were implemented in didactic process. We assumed that together with social policy instruments there are number of spatial conditions supporting activity of elderly people and hospitalization process. At the same time the social usability of the researches was indicated to the students.

The research realized in didactic process was an exploratory case study and comparative analysis of geriatric hospital in Katowice, Poland and in Western European countries. It revealed that there are significant distinctions between Polish and West European examples in main spatial structure categories:
- in scale of the immediate surroundings of the building,
- in scale of the building – functional features,
- in scale of patient’s /resident’s area.

In further explorations we assume the interdisciplinary approach. We assume cooperation of the workgroup consisted of architects, sociologists and geriatric specialists with the institutions supporting the elderly. Planned quality study will be conducted on selected currently functioning geriatric hospital in Katowice and in Cieszyn, Upper Silesia. The methodological approach is based on the participation and cooperation with representatives of medical institution. What is more, the students of architecture and sociology will participate in some of the research tasks.

It is expected that the research program also provide to building the research methodology useful in the development of optimal model of geriatric hospitals integrated with institutional support for building the sustainable society.