The Interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was subtitled Neglect and, following its release on 31 October, there has been much public condemnation of institutionalised aged care due to ill treatment of residents.
While the incidences of misconduct by staff have been heart wrenching, there are many organisations providing a high level of care in a very challenging sector. My mother lives in Residential Care in Tasmania and she has never been happier. She is looked after by caring staff and lives in a high-quality environment that allows her to eat, sleep and socialise to have an excellent quality of life.
The Interim Report did identify three areas requiring immediate action:
In relation to the first action, it is worth noting the Commonwealth’s strategy of Ageing In Place which responds to demand for people seeking additional support to live at home longer. In the 2018-19 federal budget, funding for aged care was increased by $5 billion over five years to deliver an additional 20,000 home care packages over the next four years.
The investigation into aged care also assessed the physical environments and the Interim Report noted; “The impact, particularly on those residents with dementia, of large, noisy facilities with poor visual layouts and an inappropriate mix of residents—contribute to behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and poor care management”.
The Royal Commission also noted that it will consider “how implementation of dementia-friendly design principles can be increased, including potentially through mandatory requirements for new residential aged care facilities, or the refurbishment of existing facilities.” In an earlier blog I outlined nine objectives that must be considered when designing for life with dementia.
Edmiston Jones is alert to the significant responsibility we have as architects. We contribute to the wellbeing of aged care residents by designing carefully considered physical environments that are safe, secure and create opportunities to prevent social isolation.