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Aged Care Facilities Share Insights on Innovation

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Written by

Managing Director, Infrastructure

Many aged care facilities in Australia are breaking new ground in the way they approach design, environmental sustainability, patient care and safety and mobility. The following aged care facilities showcase some of the innovations we’re seeing in the industry.


In-room Kitchens to cater for Residents’ preferences

More and more aged care facilities are altering their designs to make life feel as homely and comfortable as possible for residents. The Freedom Aged Care Village in Toowoomba, Queensland, recently underwent a design fit-out to change the interior environment from a “nursing home” feel to a modern home-like feel.

One feature of the new fit-out is a re-design of the communal dining hall; which encourages interaction and relationship-building between residents as well as a welcoming place for family and friends to visit the residents. Alternatively, visitors can socialise with residents in the adjoining bar and cafe.

The facility offers great flexibility to residents; for example, they can prepare meals in their own in-room kitchens or choose to eat in the dining room and interact with other residents. Thus, the design of this facility adds to variability and the enablement of residents’ daily routines to be catered for based on their individuals interests.


Environmental Sustainability at the forefront

With the majority of their facilities spread throughout metro areas of New South Wales, HammondCare has focused the development of their newer aged care facilities on environmental sustainability, particularly transitioning to a more eco-friendly design. 

This is evident from the installation of over 1,280 solar panels on the roofs of five of its aged care facilities; as well as their commitment to significantly reduce landfill wastage, energy and water consumption over the next five years, as part of their Environmental Position Statement, released late in 2017.

In addition to the solar panels, HammondCare has also invested in Ozone laundry technology, Solar Photovoltaic cells and energy-efficient LED lighting for its facilities.


Innovation in Dementia care

With over 55 aged care facilities across Australia, Regis Aged Care has been focused on developing more innovative ways to care for their residents with dementia. For example, PARO therapy - an advanced interactive robot (pet seal) designed in Japan - has been introduced to aged care facilities where residents have allergies and are unable to interact with real pets. With five kinds of sensors (posture, temperature, tactile, light and audition), the robotic seal can recognise its name as well as the direction of voices and other words. 

By providing positive sounds, interactions and caring-like gestures to residents, PARO has been found to be very popular. In addition, this initiative has been found to reduce anxiety and stress in patients as well as improve socialisation between residents and their caregivers. It is innovations such as this that help aged care facilities improve the quality of care for their residents.


Recreational activities to enhance mobility

One aged care facility in Sydney’s south, has taken the issue of mobility to the full extent by not only providing wide walkways, hallways and outer paths to accommodate residents who use walkers or wheelchairs to get around, they have also engaged extensively with designers and builders to ensure their Ferndale Gardens facility in Mortdale provides a range of other features.

Most notably is the co-location of aged-care friendly activities, such as an onsite miniature golf course and bowling green to encourage residents to go outside more frequently, as well as use their sensors to enjoy nature to its fullest and take in the fresh air. Tai Chi classes have also been introduced to encourage residents to stay active and mobile.


Award winner for Excellence in Aged Care Design

Although some may suggest Paling Court about 90 minutes south-west of Sydney’s CBD is catered more towards retirement living than true aged care practices, their residential aged care facility recently received the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) award for Excellence in Aged Care design. With over 100 luxury suites for singles and couples, Paling Court has taken away the hospital-like feel and replaced it with more homely design features, including spacious balconies, open-air courtyards, as well as a range of communal living spaces to makes visit with friends and family more inviting.

Like many modern aged care facilities, this development also has a physiotherapy clinic, hairdressing salon, general practitioner (GP) services and a “reflection room”.  This is combined with a comprehensive lifestyle program, as well as a range of meal options, to cater for residents’ interests and needs.

Increasingly, aged care facilities across Australia are embracing new technologies and ensuring innovative practices and design features are at the forefront.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Donald Cant Watts Corke is advising providers on how to deliver better aged care facilities for the future, contact us today.

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