Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2013 Contents However, Cunningham said it can still
be a challenge to make architects see
additional dementia training as a priority,
and voluntary further education falls short
of industry expectations to ensure the
consistency and quality of standards.
Architect Kirsty Bennett, who specialises
in designing for older people and people
with dementia, says while there are no
postgraduate courses specifically available
for architects to specialise in dementia
design in most universities, there is a
growing focus on undergraduate and
continuing professional development,
which is highly appropriate.
"Units are being introduced in a
number of architecture schools at the
undergraduate level and this has a
significant impact in educating architects
about the importance of design in the life
of a person living with dementia," she said.
In association with the NSW/ACT
Dementia Training Study Centre,
renowned dementia specialist architect,
Brian Kidd has developed a design unit
that has been taught to final year students
at the University of Melbourne and Deakin
University in Victoria. Professor Roger Fay
has also introduced a design and research
unit into the architecture school at at the
University of Tasmania.
The initiative is helping to raise
awareness of this stream with final year
students before they decide on an area of
specialisation and career path, she said.
"It is very positive that these design
schools are open to including these
subjects in their curriculum and take up of
these subjects at the undergraduate level
has been strong."
More broadly, however, the challenge
for this field of architecture is to have it
recognised as a complex and highly skilled
specialist area like other more prominent
areas of architectural design, said Bennett.
"Similar to the position of aged care
nurses who 20 years ago had to prove that
their nursing skills were highly complex
and comparable to the skills of acute care
nurses, architects working in this field are
also having to prove that building an aged
care facility, like an acute care building, is
a matter of skilful design."
In addition to targeting architectural
students at the undergraduate level, it is
also important to continue to target more
experienced architects through continuing
professional education, she said.
Equally important, however, is the training
made available to aged care managers
placed in charge of project managing the
refitting or development of facility buildings.
Colum Cunningham said often the key
reason that best practice guidelines are not
followed is because the project manager for
an aged care facility, often a senior nurse
or clinician, has not been appropriately
trained to effectively undertake the role.
"Aged care facilities often put people
in project planning and management
roles that have not been trained up and
given the expertise to help them to talk to
architects," he said.
"That is where I see consistently
things failing. Staff need to be trained up
to be good project managers. They need
training in effective communication skills
to be able to sell their message to their
board or executive committee, and they
need to be able to draw on the strongest
evidence-base to support their pitch."
Cunningham, whose centre runs the
international dementia design school, said
project managers are also often stretched
to capacity, juggling project management
in addition to their day-to-day clinical
management of a facility.
To ensure best practice design standards in
the community, Cunningham also supports
the wider education and training of
community builders and home renovators
to support older people to make sensible
renovation decisions at home.
Home renovators should be advising
customers on simple, clear design to support
older Australians to age-in-place, he said.
"For example, in most of our hallways at
home the doors are all the same colour, so
painting the toilet door or frame a different
colour will help to make the bathroom
stand out. When refitting the kitchen,
the fridge door should not blend into the
interior design and there shouldn't be too
many cupboards, which can add clutter." n
RESOURCES ON DEMENTIA DESIGN
• The Dementia Enabling Environment Project [DEEP] -- a national collaboration
led by Alzheimer's Australia WA and the NSW Dementia Training Study Centre at
the University of Wollongong -- offers a range of initiatives to translate research and
guidelines into practice in the area of dementia and the built environment. It offers
expert consulting services, a Virtual Information Centre and a free environmental audit
app called BEAT-D (Built Environment Assessment Tool: Dementia).
• The Dementia Centre at HammondCare provides expert consulting services
and a range of educational resources including the International Dementia Design
School, a three-day intensive, practice-based workshop on best practice in dementia
design. It also includes the Dementia Design Audit Tool, developed in collaboration
with the Dementia Services Development Centre in the UK, which contains a series
of resources for carrying out self-assessment of environments used by people with
dementia. W: www.dementiacentre.com.au
• Designing outdoor spaces for people with dementia
[Hammond Press 2012; ISBN 978-0-987-2-61892] is a
highly accessible and comprehensive new handbook-style
guide to every possible consideration of designing outdoor
spaces and places for people with dementia. Produced as
a collaboration between HammondCare's Dementia Centre
in Australia and the Dementia Services Development Centre
at the University of Stirling in Scotland, it deals with a wide
range of climates, cultures, activities and settings, has
loads of case studies and always with lots of photographs,
maps, diagrams and 'tips'.
• Gardens that Care [Alzheimer's Australia SA Inc
2010; ISBN: 978-0-9577999-8-1] was produced in 2010
with funding from the Commonwealth under the South
Australian Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service, run by Alzheimer's
Australia SA. A 32 page ring bound resource, it is less ambitious in its scope than the
one described above, but its beautiful use of imagery, clear sections and a simple,
step by step approach makes it readily accessible and highly appealing to everyone
from landscape designers to care service providers to carers at home.
"A lot of the things that are problematic
for people with dementia are actually not
about their cognitive impairment -- it is
about their age; for example their eyes
being older and their hearing changing."
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