Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2014 Contents EXPERTS IN
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However, the residents were less likely to use
inadequate spaces for sitting, socialising or
personal hobbies -- they chose to stay in their
bedrooms or to forgo the activity.
BUILDINGS AND THE
SENSE OF LOSS
The major theme of the sense of loss raised
several questions. Can buildings enable
residents to mitigate their sense of loss?
Are there design features that can assist
residents to adapt and feel their losses less
acutely? Can we create designs that offer
meaningful choices for residents and meet personal needs for
privacy? Can these choices contribute to assisting residents to
retain a level of independence and to feel a sense of control?
My findings showed that a building design that supports the
residents to be self-initiating and that offers real choices can
enhance the residents' experiences and the social environment. A
building can create many opportunities for residents to be more
self-directed in the ways they use the indoor and outdoor spaces.
In turn, this contributes to the feeling of having influence over
their lives and improving their quality of life.
For example, residents liked to have choices of spaces to sit
-- depending on the reason for sitting. Small sitting areas near
bedrooms effectively expanded residents' personal space.
Personal privacy was highly valued; residents found ways to have
privacy in public spaces. Several residents described how they found
privacy in spaces beyond their bedrooms. Ann spoke about an outdoor
area: "It's nice to get the fresh air and sunshine. I don't want to make it
too popular...I think I am the only one. So it's my little spot."
The desire for having a choice of spaces and activities was
clearly expressed by Amy: "I never want to be part of that throng
and sit in the [lounge] room and stare at the TV."
Another highly valued feature were connections between indoors
and outdoors -- for example, direct views from inside to the gardens.
Further, my study highlighted the importance of the
secondary benefits of certain spaces, which can increase the
overall benefit for residents.
For example, dining rooms were the social hubs -- gathering
before and after meals is a social tradition. Corridors were not just
traffic areas, they were the neighbourhoods; everyone spoke to
everyone in the corridors. Similarly, sitting spots on the way to the
main areas encouraged conversations and assisted way finding.
Ultimately, I believe it is crucial to understand what our
residents and potential residents want to do in the buildings and
outdoor spaces. This will help us create designs that enhance
their lives. By using an intentional design approach, we can be
deliberate in designing and building aged care facilities that
respond to the physical, social and emotional needs of residents. n
Dr Lee Chin is an aged care and community services consultant. She
completed her PhD on the impact of the built environment on quality
of life for residents in 2011. For more, email email@example.com
Dr Lee Chin
Did the theory work in practice?
My study confirmed the value of undertaking post occupancy
evaluations (POE), which assess whether a building achieved
the expected outcomes and how it works from the perspectives
of the residents and the staff. The outcomes of POE create
an evidence base to inform future developments and
redevelopments, and areas for improvement.
A POE should:
• ask the staff to observe how the residents use the building;
• involve the residents in assessing the building;
• consider how the project can contribute to the success of
• determine if the building meets the original objectives; and
• review if the original objectives included resident experiences.
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