Help us build better aged care: Colbeck

We want to know what you think the residential aged care design standards should include, writes Senator Richard Colbeck.

We want to know what you think the residential aged care design standards should include, writes Senator Richard Colbeck.

Australian Ageing Agenda’s focus on the future of design in aged care is as timely as it is important, as the Australian Government embarks on widespread consultations to inform the facilities of tomorrow.

In response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Government is building an aged care system that is responsive to the needs and preferences of senior Australians and delivers safe, high quality care. The design of residential aged care homes is a key enabler that will work alongside other reforms to deliver these outcomes.

Richard Colbeck

The royal commission clearly outlined the need for improvements. For example, it found that less than half of Australia’s residential aged care facilities adopt a dementia-friendly design.

To make sure we get it right, the Government is seeking the views of the aged care sector, including providers, stakeholders, technical experts, as well as senior Australians, their families and carers.

Based on these consultations, new national design standards, will be developed and introduced from 1 July 2024.

Better choices, better lives

We have the opportunity – together – to innovate, to capture how people want to live and make that happen in the safest and most inclusive way possible.

First and foremost, design must serve senior Australians – their needs and also their wants.

An environment that is appealing, user-friendly, safe, familiar and comforting is important for a resident’s quality of life, particularly those living with dementia.

By adopting national design standards, we will give people entering residential aged care greater confidence that the aged care home they choose will be better able to meet their needs.

That may not be in the traditional large residential care facility that many people think of.  It could be in a small-home model, where a handful of people live and socialise in a homelike environment.

At the same time, residential aged care providers and developers will have clear design standards to help guide their capital works towards more appealing, safer and more user‑friendly environments for current and future residents.

Importantly, the new accommodation framework will guide the design of the most appropriate residential aged care accommodation going forward. I can assure residential aged care providers they will not be expected to update their existing facilities to meet new standards by 1 July 2024.

The introduction of design standards will be managed to ensure there is an appropriate transition to new arrangements for existing facilities.

Have your say

Overall, there are several elements being considered as we develop design standards to support the quality of life for senior Australians:

  • consumer preferences
  • the role of small-home models
  • dementia-friendly design
  • accessible design
  • suitability for diverse populations
  • location
  • appropriate safety features, including infection control
  • encouraging innovation.

Importantly, we will consider the recommendations of a recent review into how COVID-19 outbreaks were managed in aged care that highlights design changes that could protect residents in a future pandemic.

If you’re a technical industry expert, aged care provider, stakeholder, architect, dementia or accessibility advisor, aged care health professional, a senior Australian, a family member or a carer, we want to know what you think the design standards should include.

Consultation on the new accommodation framework has begun and there will be a number of opportunities for different stakeholders to be involved throughout the consultation process.

Initially, the Department of Health has published two discussion papers.

The overview paper provides information to all interested stakeholders on the purpose of the new accommodation framework and outlines the factors being considered within the framework.

The design and innovation paper is for a wide aged care audience including aged care providers, peak bodies and advocacy groups, architects, designers, dementia and accessibility advisors, and aged care health professionals.

Here, input is being sought on the current requirements, the characteristics of good residential aged care design and how to promote and demonstrate adoption of the design standards.

To ensure senior Australians and their needs are at the forefront of our considerations, a survey will be released shortly to get their views, and those of their carers and families, on what should be included in design standards.

We want to know what’s important, what would make a real difference and what’s just window-dressing.

This survey will later be followed with targeted and direct consumer engagement.

Find out more information on the residential aged care accommodation framework and consultation papers and register for the survey.

Senator Richard Colbeck is Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services

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Tags: aged care design, contributor, design standards, Richard Colbeck, royal commission into aged care quality and safety,

2 thoughts on “Help us build better aged care: Colbeck

  1. What a lot of rubbish!
    Government after government has said they don’t want to be “prescriptive”. Meaning that they don’t want to push their views upon providers. The sector has asked for the government to supply policy and procedure documents etc, if every facility had identical documents then we would have a more level delivery of care etc. But the government won’t do that..but now they want to tell us how and what to build!
    As someone that has managed a facility specialising in dementia care for over 40 years I can confidently say that one size doesn’t fit all.
    What degree of dementia are they talking about? Mild,early onset? or severe ?
    Absolutely different needs for each stage! When residents can’t remember their children,wife, brother etc…they can’t remember how to shower,toilet,eat etc etc…..and then some clown tells us to paint a particular door a favourite colour. If you can’t remember your wife’s name how in hell are you going to remember that your door is painted lemon or blue?
    Why doesn’t the government lift their game and fix the problems they can fix rather than meddling with issues they have no idea about!

  2. Yeah, great. Posting about this when half the surveys close the following day. Not good enough

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