Building aged care that is ‘distinctly different’

Rockpool Residential Aged Care is on a mission to design and develop aged care homes where people want to come and enjoy this phase of their lives.

Rockpool Residential Aged Care is on a mission to design and develop aged care homes where people want to come and enjoy this phase of their lives, says the provider’s chief.

This includes Rockpool’s facility in Brisbane’s north, which will open a childcare centre on site later this year – the first initiative of its kind in Queensland. From July, Carseldine Village will co-exist with an adjoining C&K – a childcare centre and kindergarten. The move is part of the Queensland provider’s continued focus on resident wellness.

Melissa Argent

“We’ve seen so much around intergenerational care and the benefits of that,” Rockpool chief executive officer Melissa Argent told Australian Ageing Agenda. “We’ve been lucky enough – as part of the Carseldine Village masterplan – to be able to share a site and have an adjoining residential aged care facility and a childcare facility.”

Ms Argent was speaking to AAA ahead of an industry conference where she will present on the topic of the design and development of aged care facilities. In her speech, Ms Argent will share her learnings from Carseldine Village, which opened last August.

Visited by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in June – who described the site as “world-class” – the multibillion-dollar state-of-the art 150-bed facility has a 5-Star Green Star Rating. Carseldine Village is, said Ms Argent, “the aged care home of the future with a commitment to sustainable infrastructure and operations.”

Ms Argent told AAA that, for too long, aged care in Australia has had a really bad reputation. “We know that it’s generally held in the community that residential aged care is the absolute last place anybody wants to go – we’re on a mission to change that perception,” she said. Which means designing and developing homes “where people want to come and really enjoy this phase in their life.”

For Ms Argent the focus is on reablement and wellness “not sick and vulnerable and frail.”

“It’s about providing all the clinical needs – but more importantly – all the social and wellbeing needs of our elderly population and giving them the social support for an acceptable quality of life,” she said.

Ms Argent told AAA Carseldine residents live in small home-like communities where up to 30 residents have their own lounge and dining areas. “So it’s moving away from the old-fashioned institutional model that so many people think about aged care.”

Carseldine residents are surrounded by “creature comforts” said Ms Argent. “Many of our rooms have their own tea-making facilities and a small kitchenette, so they can bring family or friends into their room.”

Resident accommodation at Carseldine Village

All Rockpool homes also have a commercial café on site that welcomes outside visitors. It’s about breaking down barriers said Ms Argent. “It’s about demystifying residential aged care and bringing people in and sharing the experience with our residents and their families.”

Returning to the theme of the future of aged care, Ms Argent told AAA: “For me it’s about building residential aged care that is distinctly different.”

Ms Argent will be among 150 speakers attending the 12th Australian Healthcare Week conference in Sydney next week, which also includes a stream on innovaiton in aged care. The two-day event – which is running at the International Convention Centre from 15-16 March – is free to attend. Register here.

Australian Ageing Agenda is the Official Care Partner of AWH 2023.

Main image: Rockpool’s Carseldine Village which will share space with a childcare centre

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Tags: australian healthcare week, carseldine village, melissa argent, rockpool,

2 thoughts on “Building aged care that is ‘distinctly different’

  1. I am pleased that there are passionate aged care providers who want to do a great job with built environments they are proud of. The green star rating and use of electronic bidets is commendable. However, looking at the photographs provided I am dismayed. I don’t want to live in a hotel! I see sharp corners (skin tears) on the foot of the bed. I see a table that I am immediately concerned about it’s stability when a resident puts their weight on it to help them stand. I love the idea of team making/kitchenette facilities, but the majority of residents will have cognitive impairment/ dementia (‘officially’ a little over 50% of all Australian residents have dementia, but some detailed studies that capture the undiagnosed dementia indicate that up to 90% of residents have cognitive impairment). The kitchenette/ electric jug etc will become a source of distress for staff as they navigate managing risk with what the marketing department has sold the family of the residents. For those residents with visual perceptual impairment – where are the design and colour features that help them ‘see’ their world? Basic principles indicate you do not use contrasting light and dark flooring ( see the photo of the bedroom and ensuite). This contrast is perceived as a step up or down, and therefore a trip hazard.
    Basic principles of good dementia design need to be incorporated into all new and retrofitted environments where older people will live and spend time. Good dementia design is good design per se – not an optional extra for so called dementia or memory support units.
    Aged care, especially residential aged care needs to drive those basic design principles that not only assist residents to function at their best, but also support staff in their daily work.
    Principles are underpinned by decades of evidence. There is a lot of information available. here are just three examples:
    https://www.dementia.org.au/sites/default/files/helpsheets/Helpsheet-Environment03_HowToDesign_english.pdf
    https://www.dementiafriendly.org.au/find-resources/dementia-enabling-environment-project-deep
    https://shop.hammond.com.au/products/designsmart

  2. More like ‘back’ to the future of aged care
    Great idea, wrong market. The doctor’s comments are spot-on. Did anyone actually visit a care facility to see what contemporary residential aged care clients look like? (You do realise that picture of the late-sixties couple walking along the beach is just a stock photo they put in all the brochures?)
    It doesn’t matter how many gold plated coffee grinders and titanium milk frothers are on the bench if you’re confined to an air-chair and can only eat puree meals.
    And where did they manage to find an entire team of highly skilled and dedicated clinicians? (they sound great…we’d like some of those too, please) Hopefully they wont be too busy dealing with scalding hot water injuries, suturing head lacerations caused by the bedside cabinet and trying to get the wee stains out of the fabric covered chairs?
    Just when we were starting to realise the home model doesn’t work for people with complex clinical needs, this happens.

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