Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2013 Contents art consultancy, such as sourcing artwork
through galleries and private channels,
as well as customised print solutions
Saddington, who is also an artist, had
researched the benefits of art in health
settings but found there was a lack of
suitable printed artwork available and
set about designing and producing in-
house material ideal for clients in health
and aged care.
"When I go to see new clients I will
take into account the demographics of
the resident population. But I always say
to the clients in health and aged care,
landscape is a huge consideration for
you. You must have landscape because
that's what this research is telling us,"
It is about bringing the most
convincing and pleasant evocations of
the outside world in, which is especially
necessary for those people unable to
go outside into the real world, he says.
In addition to providing therapeutic
benefits, an art strategy can be used
to implement way finders and
For example, at a site with an interior
circular configuration Saddington put
different themes in each of the four
corridors to help residents find their
way and reduce disorientation.
At a facility in Melbourne, Saddington
ran a series of flower images along the
north corridor, pictures of gardens
with mature trees in another, with the
remaining two corridors featuring
For that he sourced a series of
Australian vintage posters from the 30s
and 40s, which correlated to the era of
those living in the facility, for the east
corridor. The final walkway was filled
with historical photographs of the city of
Melbourne from the 20th century.
"There was quite a tour to be had from
actually finding your way around these
four different themes as you moved about
each day," he says.
Incorporating the artwork in tours is
a popular option for staff running activity
programs, Saddington says. For example, it
could involve activity coordinators getting
the residents to walk around and look for
chrysanthemums in the pictures, he says.
"It also touches on that concept of
bringing the outside in, particularly if
we're dealing with aspects of the local
area or landscapes that mimic the area
outside the facility," he says.
When looking at where to place art,
Saddington says height is an important
consideration because many elderly
people have a low field of vision due to
posture problems or being in a wheelchair.
COST AND COHESION
Like Ballard, Saddington agrees that any
art program must match the overall vision
and ethos of the organisation. "You can't
really show the level of service or other
intangible things during one of those tours
of the facility." But if properly utilised,
the art can symbolically show the level of
care, Saddington says.
The two also agree that art strategy
doesn't have to be expensive. Saddington
says it depends on a client's budget and
the number of pieces they want, but print
material is usually the cheaper option
compared to original artwork.
Sourcing cheaper but appropriate
material might take a bit more time
and thought but there is always a way
around it, says Ellie Roberts, who
together with former minister for ageing
Santo Santoro operates Aged Care
Interiors, a Queensland-based company
providing design consultation for interior
environments in the seniors' market.
Roberts suggests photography instead
of original art work for smaller budgets
but insists the art has to do more than fill
a space. It needs to be part of a cohesive
program, she says.
Sourcing the curtains, furniture,
flooring, and artwork from different
suppliers because each is the cheapest
in its field is likely to be "hit and miss,"
she warns. Roberts says she likes to look
for something a little out of the box to
promote interest and stimulation, but not
so far out that it provokes controversy.
GOOD FOR BUSINESS
Like other elements of a facility, artwork
should be regularly reassessed. "When you
do a refurbishment you could review the
art," she suggests.
With the sector becoming increasingly
competitive, Roberts says expectations of
improved interiors featuring artwork will
only increase. "Particularly in the public
areas it will be a quick way of showing you
have had a change," she says.
Roberts is not alone in thinking an
art strategy can help with marketing.
Dr Ballard says that, in his time, visitors
were struck by the art and regularly
commented on it.
The art also benefits the staff, Ballard
says, by offering them a pleasant and
stimulating environment. This is an
important consideration which can assist
one of the sector's biggest challenges
-- attracting and retaining workers --
Aged care CEOs thinking about
incorporating art into their facilities
but facing unenthusiastic stakeholders
should try the evidence angle first, but
not give not up if that doesn't work,
"The aim is to promote a welcoming,
people-friendly place and to humanise
the institutional nature of residential
facilities. For those not receptive to art
as a means of engaging people, couch it
simply as an aspect of interior design.
It is decorative and contributes to
marketing the facility. But for those
of us committed to aged care, it is all
about people." n
Mercy Place, Victoria, by Art Strategies Australia
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 31
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