Despite the recent emphasis in Australian political, academic, and legislative narratives to more actively promote real housing choice for people with high healthcare and support needs, there is a lack of understanding regarding the specific housing features that might constitute better housing solutions for this population. Inclusive housing provision in Australia rightly emphasises safety and accessibility issues but often fails to incorporate factors related to broader psychosocial elements of housing such as dwelling location, neighbourhood quality, and overall design. While the importance of these broader elements appears obvious, it is not yet clear what specific housing features relate to these elements and how they might contribute to housing solutions for people with high healthcare and support needs. For individuals with complex neurological conditions such as brain injury or cerebral palsy, who require maximum support on a daily basis yet want to live independently and away from a primary care hospital or health facility, a more detailed understanding of the housing features that might influence design and development is needed. Thus, in order to clarify the broader factors related to housing solutions for this population, a systematic review was conducted to identify and synthesise the current research evidence (post-2003) and guide future housing design and development opportunities.
From the included studies (n=26), 198 unique housing features were identified. From the 198 features, 142 related to housing design (i.e., internal or external characteristics of the dwelling and its land), 12 related to the dwelling's location (i.e., its proximity to available resources), and 54 related to the nature of the surrounding neighbourhood (i.e., the physical, social, and economic conditions of the area). The findings of this review contribute significantly to the literature by reporting a broader scope of relevant housing features for people with neurological disability, presenting preliminary guiding principles for housing design and development for this population, and identifying opportunities for future research.