As global leaders in the design of third age environments, Life3A have been carefully watching the pandemic and its impact on aged care environments. Approximately 42 -57% of COVID-19 deaths have taken place in care homes according to a report by the London School of Economics.
These alarming statistics outline that some drastic changes are required in later living environments worldwide; not only to address the control of disease but also the fundamental needs of residents and their families.
The pandemic has laid bare an aged care system that is already under the stress.
Aged care operators around the world were faced with a two-fold problem with opposing requirements: In addition to managing contagion risk, they also needed to balance another health threat for the older adults residing in their facilities: – social isolation.
How do we design for safe interaction, not social isolation?
Future retirement living and aged care accommodation will need to safely maximise interaction with the outside world even during a quarantine event. Designs will need to seek solutions to safely maximise interaction with the outside world even during a quarantine situation.
- Revisit operational models to keep the number of residents to a minimum within each aged care home.
- Design facilities that enable social distancing whilst maximising social interaction as well as including sleeping quarters for care staff with access to a separate outside space.
- Ensure there is the ability to clearly zone buildings. There might be three separate zones in each new facility or building. Each zone would be designed in response to having a different level of risk which needs to be controlled by a combination of building design and planning as well as staff management.
Life3A have been strong advocates of the household model and many of our past, current and future solutions are a true reflection of that model.
Over the past decade, Life3A have designed aged care facilities and integrated developments with the resident at the centre of the design thinking and with a strong belief that best resident health outcomes can only be achieved with the resident at the intersection of design/built form/operations/wellness and technology. Viral outbreaks make it difficult for the residents to connect and combatting loneliness and isolation will even become more challenging than it already is, so appropriate technology will become an even more important factor.