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Living and working in the Hunziker complex: Evaluation of the Züriwerk Foundation project

Background and aims

The Züriwerk Foundation has created housing and employment options in the Hunziker complex in the cooperative building association ‘More Than Living’ (Wohngenossenschaft "Mehr als Wohnen"). The foundation has thus made housing in normalized living spaces possible for 40 people with cognitive impairment, including people with a high need for assistance and older people.

The Züriwerk Foundation asked the University of Applied Sciences of Special Needs Education (HfH) to conduct an evaluation to examine the effects and changes of this new form of housing on quality of life and on participation.


The evaluation examined the following research question: What changes have resulted from this new housing and support concept in the life situation of the persons with impairment, in the work of the team members, and regarding the organization, and how do all of the persons involved evaluate these changes? In a qualitative research study, we conducted problem-centred group discussions with persons with im-pairment, team members, and persons in charge. The discussions were evaluated using content analysis following Mayring (2010). The persons with impairment were surveyed directly in the group discussions. Persons with a high need for assistance were interviewed individually using methods of augmentative and alternative communication. For validation, and taking a participatory approach, the results were presented for discussion to all groups surveyed.


The persons with cognitive impairment, the team members, and the leaders assessed the housing offered by the Züriwerk Foundation as positive. Quality of life improved. It is especially important to note that also persons with a high need for assistance moved into this form of housing in a group living situation, if they wished. This is important because this group of persons is often in danger of being left in residential inpatient facilities. But it is with these persons that there is at the same time the greatest need for action if we are to further improve quality of life in the dimensions self-determination and social participation. The older persons much appreciated the offerings of the voluntary ‘seniors’ atelier’. The fact that participation is voluntary is positive, so that everyday life at this time of life can be actively shaped according to a person’s own interests and resources.

The evaluation shows that the guiding postulates of self-determination and participation require further development of person-oriented and social-spatial support provisions in the framework of this housing project. Based on the results of the evaluation, the Züriwerk Foundation project can be considered a model for further housing projects. In addition, it is an important step towards realization of rights to participation and access for people with cognitive impairment, which accords with the mission of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.





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