Are large-scale aged care developments a thing of the past?
The Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care handed down 148 recommendations to improve the quality of life for older people living in care facilities.
Of those recommendations, two stand out for those engaged in the design of the built environment. Recommendations 45 and 46 address design, including the size and structure of aged care facilities.
The recommendations perhaps raise more questions than offer answers. The first design-related recommendation calls for implementing a comprehensive set of National Aged Care Design Principles and Guidelines on accessible and dementia-friendly design for residential aged care.
These guidelines should also apply to 'small household' models of accommodation. They are linked to financial incentives, where additional capital grants should be available for building or upgrading residential aged care facilities to provide small-scale congregate living.
These recommendations raise a crucial question for developers and operators of aged care facilities: would mandated design guidelines consign large scale age-care buildings of 120-plus beds to history?
A paper by Life3A Melbourne Principal Tieran Kimber considers the impact of the recommendations and how they could challenge assumptions regarding the size and structure of aged-care facilities.
"Are we talking about merely tweaking the internal structures while retaining bed numbers and scale? Or will we see a complete shift in how high levels of aged care will be delivered?" Mr Kimber said.
"While only two recommendations address design specifically, architecture can liberate, or it can deny freedoms.
"We need only think of how prisons are explicitly designed to restrain movement and deny certain rights to understand the profound impact of architecture on a person's emotional, physical, and social wellbeing.
"Aged care size and structure are important conversations in improving the quality of life for people living in care."
To receive a copy of the article, contact Tieran Kimber.