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Aged Care Homes: How Does Australia Stack Up?

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Written by

Managing Director, Infrastructure

Aged care standards, practices and facilities are evolving on a global level. In a market estimated to pass one thousand million USD globally by 2025, how much are Australian facilities leading the way in aged care, and how much are they playing catch-up? 

In this article, we review what Australia can learn from care models, facility design and various technology platforms currently being used in the aged care sector, here and abroad.

 Eyeing Australian Markets

Aged care is now a global endeavour. As noted in Forbes magazine, emerging economy BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are joining established economies in providing large-scale care for our senior members of the community. 

Companies such as Brookdale Senior Living (with over 1,000 communities and more than 100,000 residents) in the United States, are taking note of the opportunities available to not only expand globally, but influence how seniors live around the world.

 Australian Government Support for Aged Care

The Australian government offers help with specific types of care including: 

  • Home care;
  • Post-operative care;
  • Respite care for short stays based on care-giver needs;
  • Residential aged care homes; and
  • Short-term stays for restorative care.

A published schedule of subsidies and supplements from September 2017, provides a detailed list of the financial support available based on an evaluation of the aged person’s condition, abilities, resources, and provision of traditional services. 

In reviewing services available, government statistics from a study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, reflects a shift in focus, whereby the size of a facility relates to how they measure the level of quality provided by an institution. It states that 65% of aged care services in Australia are managed by non-profit organisations, while 49% of places in the remaining privately-run services are in locations with more than 100 beds. Why this is relevant is because there seems to be a correlation between the size of the facility that has been built, and its design. For example, whether the facility has a strong sense of community and exposure to natural light and other positive elements, which aged care persons enjoy.

 A Sense of Community

Belong Villages in the United Kingdom is a good example of how more recent aged care and senior living concepts have been integrated with innovative architecture to develop home-like style environments, to facilitate as close to a ‘village’ or community setting as possible. 

Some of these establishments within aged care institutions have introduced faith-based cultural features, refurbished historic buildings focusing on local heritage, an urban waterfront location integrated with a historic town centre, and the renewal of a former industrial docks site.

Mindful of special needs such as dementia or a person’s lack of mobility, there is far greater awareness of addressing residents’ needs when designing a new facility.

 Global Re-interpretation of Seniors’ Needs

In “Ageing 2.0,” a major US study published in 2017, which explored global innovation in ageing and senior care around the world, and to help educate the United States on how their strategic efforts should be developed in the future, there was a clear indication that global aged care strategies are evolving from basic measures of needs and care requirements to a far greater “person-centric” approach. These new approaches integrate care levels, technologies, and building design in a way that meets a broad spectrum of residents’ needs and preferences.

This philosophy can be scaled from small facilities in rural communities through to large-scale institutions suitable for major cities, whilst still keeping a social connectedness amongst the residents.

An even more notable statistic is the increasing demand for aged care, which is costing countries across the globe more and more each year to accommodate the needs of seniors. Anticipating a $319 billion cost for aged care and senior residents in the US in 2016, a Forbes contributor noted that technology will be an important contributor in ensuring services can be expanded whilst effectively minimising costs - a point which also relates to the Australian aged care sector.

 Evidence-based Facility Design

A 2012 study of Australian facility design showed that in the case of dementia care, an evolutionary, evidence-based process of design is needed; whereby architects need to continuously understand design principles to accommodate residents’ changing needs, whilst facility operators need to also share their experiences regarding existing infrastructure so that more innovative designs and newer principles can be developed. 

Over time, this has now been taking place. New facilities and aged care providers are embracing evolving technologies and person-centric opportunities, to ensure building design concepts are aligned with the latest trends and able to lead our next generation of aged care residents and facility requirements into the future.

To learn more about our expertise in delivering the aged care facilities of the future, contact us today.

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