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While ACH is making big investments in future service design,
others are investing energy and resources in new kinds of
Melbourne-based Australian Unity is one organisation
already well advanced with models designed to encourage
and support positive ageing. For several years now it has
partnered with Deakin University to produce the Australian
Unity Wellbeing Index -- a survey of Australians' satisfaction
with their lives. It takes the view that wellbeing comes from
a range of factors, both personal and societal. It covers
standards of living, health and personal relationships, safety
and community connectedness among the measures. Again, it's
a checklist aligning closely with the WHO's definition of 'active
ageing' (see box).
The philosophy has found expression in Australian Unity's
Carlton Project, a new aged care and retirement community in
Melbourne's inner city university suburb of Carlton, expected to
begin construction early this year.
Designed along campus lines and directly integrated with the
local community, the Carlton development features three mid-
sized vertical buildings. Two are designed as retirement living
while the third contains aged care, a day centre; as well as a
health service, supermarket, café, gymnasium and other elements
of community infrastructure.
"There'll be a health centre with GPs and allied health; and a
minimart and a café on the ground floor, facing the street," says
Australian Unity's Chief Executive Officer, Retirement Living
Services, Derek McMillan.
"The gym is on the first floor. It targets people over 55, but
is open to the whole community. We want to have that health
and community infrastructure open to the broader community,
not just our residents. So anyone can come and get a coffee or
see the GP or whatever. And Carlton Baths are right across the
road," he says.
INTERESTING AND INTEGRATED
"The concept offers housing and infrastructure and aged care
-- independence, health, relationships, community connection,
security, safety... all those things can be ticked."
McMillan says another benefit of this integrated model is its
capacity to break down barriers that usually exist between 'aged
care' and 'retirement villages' and the wider community.
"It will help to demystify and normalise aged care and
retirement for the wider community. Someone in their 60s
living in the area can come and see an exercise physiologist and
workout in a safe and comfortable environment, without the
common challenges of many gyms.
"The day centre -- which will also offer day respite care --
will help people stay connected too. People want to stay at
home but there is inevitably a big reliance on unpaid carers.
Someone looking after their parent can drop them off at the
day centre on their way to work. Or sometimes full-time carers
just need a break -- to get to a hair appointment or a doctor's
"I think day centres for older people will become a very cost
effective and critical component in aged care services. And I'll
be most surprised if the future trend isn't toward these more
integrated campuses," he said.
McMillan says Australian Unity is working with the City
of Melbourne, with the Victorian state government and the
developer, Australand (which is behind a complementary
adjoining university student accommodation development) to
try to redefine what an inclusive neighbourhood can be and the
services that can be provided to enhance that.
He believes the retirement village industry has tended to make
the mistake of building retirement villages in outer suburbs and
locations where land is available and more affordable.
"The future will be in building where people want to live. It
may mean higher costs and a lower profit in the short-term, but
you need to consider this level of investment over the life-span.
As the economic engine turns over, 40 years or so, it will be a
great investment. n
An active ageing approach
BACK IN 2002, the World Health
Organisation (WHO) developed a Policy
Framework on Active Ageing intended to
inform discussion and the formation of
action plans that promote healthy and active ageing.
It was developed by WHO's Ageing and Life Course
Program, headed by Dr Alexandre Kalache, as a contribution
to the Second United Nations World Assembly on Ageing, held
in April that year. It describes active ageing as "the process of
optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in
order to enhance quality of life as people age. It applies to both
individuals and population groups".
Active ageing allows people to realize their potential for
physical, social and mental well-being throughout the life course
and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate
protection, security and care when they need.
The word "active" refers to continuing participation in social,
economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability
to be physically active or to participate in the labour force. Older
people who retire from work, are ill or live with disabilities, can
remain active contributors to their families, peers, communities
and nations. Active ageing aims to extend healthy life expectancy
and quality of life for all people as they age.
"Health" refers to physical, mental and social wellbeing as
expressed in the WHO definition of health. Maintaining autonomy
and independence for older people is a key goal in the policy
framework for active ageing.
Adapted from the WHO website, Ageing and Life Course
42 | JANUARY -- FEBRUARY 2012 | AAA
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