Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2014 Contents insight from these subject matter experts.
We understand the positive impact the
translation of this understanding can have
when it is reflected in the building's design.
For example, feedback from existing
residents indicated that although water
efficient, drought tolerant landscaping
may not encourage reminiscence or
highlight seasonal changes we see
in deciduous trees. As a result we
incorporated seasonal flowers herbs and
fruit trees in the gardens across the site.
Access to courtyards, balconies and fresh
air was also important.
Small details, like a decision to recess
the entrance doors to resident's rooms,
engendered a sense of privacy for
residents by creating a portico. This design
feature could have had a significant effect
on visibility and supervision requirements,
but consultation with staff and residents
ensured the final design met the needs of
We recognised the constantly evolving
needs of our client group and that
current needs and wants are likely to
be different from future baby boomers.
Concerts, crafts and movie sessions will
still have their place, but the demand for
organisations to respond to personalised
leisure interests, and for spaces that
enable choice are expected. The number
of people wishing to re-engage and remain
active in the community is increasing.
The facility was always one which
intended to address the lifestyle needs
of residents in all their diversity.
Consumer research identified
a perceived lack of activity on
weekends and outside office
hours and a reason why many
were reluctant to make the move.
With this in mind, Northgate was
established with the flexibility to
offer coordinated and individual
amenities, while encouraging
access to visitors and family.
Design spaces that were
introduced to support activity include a
cafe, internet hub, children's play area,
art gallery, mini golf course, adjacent to
men's shed, family dining spaces, BBQ
and functions rooms, an observation
deck above the community hall and
therapeutic walking trails on the site. The
home is close to a civic park and other
local community spaces and we widened
the footpath at the front of the home to
encourage wheelchair access to the park
and when walking to visit neighbours.
Aged care is on the cusp of major
change. Building and designing for
future clients raised many questions.
What will future care needs be? How
do we manage changing demand for
secure accommodation or transition and
therapy services? Complex care needs
of clients and the demand on aged care
homes to provide better palliative and
mental health services means that spaces
need to be flexible and responsive to the
individual's care requirements. Multiple
smaller dining and lounge spaces were
incorporated across the site
to allow for the expansion and
reduction of secure capacity
depending on need. A domestic
scale apartment-style suite
has also been incorporated
into the building, for use as a
rehabilitation assessment space
for people returning home, or as
a space to support visiting family
members or particular end-of-life
As a larger facility, distance and navigation
was always an important consideration.
The use of "wayfinding" features and
smart design assisted in overcoming this
issue. By lowering some windows and
increasing the depth of the window sills,
corridor windows were transformed into
rest spots for residents along lengthy
hallways, reducing the need for additional
furniture and handrails, a subtle but easily
achieved feature that benefits residents.
The trend towards smaller living spaces in
Australian cities has generated some great
design ideas - we have seen change in a
range of areas, including the evolution of
traditional gardens to space-saving vertical
gardens. This design idea for outdoor
space offered a garden access solution for
residents who were frail or in wheelchairs. n
Susan Emerson is director of care
environments and service strategy at
Helping Hand Aged Care.
Vertical gardens offered access
for residents in wheelchairs.
Children's play area
another feature to support
activity and inclusion.
The facility supports lifestyle and recreational needs.
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