Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2011 Contents The Ashfield Baptist Homes' playground and
come in, there are always older people
around as well so there's a natural mix of
the generations. That's a good thing."
Associate Professor Bruce Judd of City
Futures Research Centre at the University
of NSW (UNSW) agrees that providers can
definitely reap a host of benefits through
design-oriented community integration.
Judd, who is also founding director
of the Australian Housing and Urban
Research Institute (AHURI) UNSW-UWS
Research Centre, co-authored the report
Dwelling, land and neighbourhood use
by older home owners (AHURI, March
He explains that older people want
community participation but do not
necessarily want it to revolve around
activities-based programs. Instead, they
want their home to be integrated within
the broader community as it had been
because it is a really enjoyable experience.
And that is what has happened."
The courtyard also features a barbeque
area, available for families to hire for
birthdays or other celebrations. "It's a
secure area so young kids can run around
and it also has some play equipment...
That relationship [between grandchildren
and grandparents] is promoted and
developed here, rather than lost, which
is what usually happens in these sorts of
Holding explains that he was lucky
enough to inherit a facility that had
the potential to be refurbished for the
purpose of community integration. There
was a backyard pool of sorts already
onsite and needing upgrading; a seminar
room-cum-office that required a serious
re-think; and sufficient space outdoors to
build a café.
So, following some capital works more
than 15 months ago, the community
integrated ABH -- as the residents now
know it -- was born.
The grounds now feature a general
store; a cinema which is used by the
residents and will soon cater for older
members of the wider community; an
education/seminar room; and an eight-by-
six metre swimming pool.
"We make the pool available to
residents from other aged care facilities,
our own residents and other community
groups," Holding says. "We also lease it
seven half-days a week to a commercial
organisation that provides swimming
lessons for kids.
"So for three-and-a-half days a week,
we have families and groups of up to half
a dozen kids aged three months to eight-
years-old visiting the facility."
DEMYSTIFYING AGED CARE
Integrating a facility's external and internal
community or 'bringing the community
in' using principles of design is currently
promoted by several aged care and
housing advocates as a 'win-win' tactic.
On one hand, Holding explains,
a strong evidence base proves that
community integration encourages social
interaction, tackles social isolation issues,
alleviates depression levels and, overall,
leads to better health outcomes.
Alternatively, he continues, by
encouraging the external community to
come on-site, providers actively break
through the institutional 'nursing home'
stigma associated with aged care and
demystify the goings-on behind the
walls of their facility. This helps build
important community relationships with
key bodies such as local councils -- which
Holding says are great supporters to have
on board in times of need or activities
funding -- and boosts reputations.
"The more contact people have with
aged care, the less fearful they are,"
Holding says. "Our experience is that
people come in here simply because there
is a pool or a café and after a little while
they are quite accustomed to it. When they
TOP COMMUNITY INTEGRATION DESIGN TIPS
1) Café culture
Don't just incorporate a café into the
design of your facility to tick a box.
"Australia has one of the most discerning
café cultures in the world. So you have
to have a good quality shop," says 4C
Living Well consultant, Roland Naufal.
That means excellent customer service,
a dedicated café staff member and an
2) Test your market
Naufal stresses the importance of doing
market research first to ensure the community
actually wants the services you want to
provide (for example, a swimming pool, gym
or café). "Test the market first," he says. "Is
there an opportunity to offer the service and
are you the right people to do it?"
3) Consider the possibility of
outsourcing your services
All the services a provider offers should
be of a high quality. So, Naufal asks,
should you be running the café yourself
or should you source someone else to be
responsible for its day-to-day operations?
4) Don't push it
Naufal believes the integration of a facility's
external and internal community must be
natural, not forced. Elements of design
must therefore facilitate opportunities for
interaction between different generations,
sexes, ethnicities and people of varying
5) Passion plus
According to Holding, it's great to design a
facility to integrate external communities but
once the construction period has ended
and the dust has literally settled, providers
must make use of the new spaces.
Remember, having an idea is one thing but
following it through right to the end with a
significant degree of passion is another.
6) Living on the edge
ThomsonAdsett's Matthew Hutchinson
advises his fellow architects to locate
community spaces on the edge of the
facility so people can gain access after
hours. "In terms of physical space, the
location should engage with the outside
world," he says. "The edge -- that can be
where that could all happen."
7) There's always a line
"There's a point where you can bring
the community into a facility but it is to a
point," Hutchinson comments. "After that,
they are places where people live. An aged
care centre isn't a city hall. It's not a public
building so it is reasonable to consider up
to which point the general public will have
access to but can not go beyond."
before they moved into aged care, only
with more support.
"Older people want to live in a diverse
community like most of us, with people
of different ages and incomes, enjoying
having access to a full range of services,"
And, assuming that the Productivity
Commission's (PC) Caring for older
Australians recommendations get adopted
and the envisioned market-based aged
care system of the future becomes
a reality, providers will need to start
delivering what consumers want, not what
they are used to supplying. If they don't
Judd says, they may be forced out of the
"In the future, the sector needs to
think more in terms of all housing and
urban environments being aged-friendly as
the scale of the problem will be so much
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