Home' Facility Perspectives : Vol 9 No 3 Contents 84 FACILITY PERSPECTIVES | VOLUME 9 NUMBER 3
| HOSPITALS + AGED CARE
which is now understood to have significant
adverse effects on wellbeing.
Coupled with tailored care, the built
environment is key to maintaining a sense
of independence and identity for residents
within larger senior living communities.
Central to this is the facilitation of daily
routines and activities of the typical home,
creating a less institutionalised setting.
For the new generation of senior living
residents in particular, maintaining a sense of
independence is of key importance.
FP: From a facilities management
perspective, what is the biggest challenge for
senior living? How can this be addressed?
WA: Research suggests that the most
significant challenge is achieving the right
balance between an individual's lifestyle
and care needs, and overall operational
requirements. Facilities managers need to
understand the importance of providing
residents with privacy, dignity, autonomy
and comfort, as well as a secure and
safe environment while continuing to
operate efficiently. Considered design
of environments and care delivery can
overcome these inherent social and
economic challenges to address the needs of
both residents and facilities managers with
mutually beneficial outcomes.
FP: What strategies can be implemented
in senior living design to address these
WA: Designing for flexibility is a big issue.
As occupancy rates increase, a suitable room
may not be available at any given time, so
easily reconfigurable units (for example,
conversions combining two one-bedroom
units into one two-bedroom unit) provide
more options for more people. The flexibility
to transition from low care to high care
seamlessly in the same living environment,
rather than needing to move as care needs
escalate, is also the new benchmark.
Avoiding typical 'institutional' design
strategies is also important -- for
example, not locating private rooms
immediately adjacent to public spaces or
on long, monotonous corridors. Allowing
for residents to move around freely in a
safe and secure, yet not overtly controlled,
environment with access to external spaces
is also important. As density requirements
inevitably increase, attention to maintaining a
genuine landscape connection, even in high-
rise environments, needs to be prioritised.
FP: There is evidence that creating spaces
of a domestic scale and feel can improve the
wellbeing of senior living residents. What
design aspects contribute most to this?
WA: No-one wants to live in a hospital. A
warm and appealing residential environment
has measurable health benefits for residents,
and relieves one of the larger stress points
of moving from the family home into a care
environment. Senior living facilities need to
provide environments that are welcoming
and warm, where residents can participate in
making a home for themselves.
There are many things that facilities
managers can do make the environment
more homelike and welcoming, including:
3 providing accommodation for couples,
room for pets, areas for visiting family
to stay for longer periods, and places
where children of all ages can be
occupied and want to visit
3 making landscape an integral part of
care and participatory environments
3 providing dining areas with visible
and interactive kitchens or plate-up
areas of a domestic scale, as well as
demonstration kitchens where care staff
and family can cook for residents
3 providing built-in furniture like memory
boxes that invite personalisation,
promote wayfinding and serve as
conversation starters for care staff while
maintaining a level of control over
3 maximising care provision efficiency
while de-emphasising the provision of
care in design and layout terms
3 allowing residents to exercise a level of
control over their space and their daily
activities so that they are able to retain a
semblance of a normal life routine.
FP: What is the latest thinking on senior
living that is both fit for purpose as an aged
care/health facility, and comfortable for
residents as a long-term home?
WA: Operators are now considering
a base build that allows for increasing
and added care provisions (for example,
hoists) that are, by their nature, clinical
but necessary infrastructure. Integrating
technology and providing flexibility for future
technology adaptation at the design stage is
also a key issue.
Architects also now have a better
understanding of the specific environmental
conditions that significantly impact on
residents. Particularly for those who suffer
conditions such as dementia, factors such as
sensory overstimulation due to exposure to
loud/clinical noises, bright lights and glare
can have serious adverse effects. We are
now designing to control these variables and
minimise discomfort for residents.
FP: What did you learn about senior living
models from your recent international study
tour that could be applied in the Australasian
WA: There is a definite trend towards
more mixed-use development, rather than
isolated 'ghettos' of senior living. Australian
operators can look to European models that
integrate a range of housing for a variety of
demographics with social, retail and health
High-rise models for advanced aged
care (including dementia) are also
becoming increasingly common with urban
densification. These developments are
also suitable for mixed-use purposes, with
the potential to activate the surrounding
environment while providing additional
revenue streams for operators.
FP: What is the future of senior living
design and operation?
WA: An ideal model for future senior
living environments should support
more individualised care delivery, providing
residents with more autonomy and control
within an integrated community setting. This
kind of setting should support routine
life activities in a home-like space. This
lessens the impact of the institutional setting,
resulting in improved wellbeing for residents,
their families and carers.
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