Brisbane Charrette challenges participants to design care for the elderly in a post-pandemic era

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The University of Queensland has partnered with DMA Engineers to organize a charrette in Brisbane to reinvent the design of residential care for the elderly in a post-pandemic period.

Now in its second year, the Longevity by Design Charrette has brought together a diverse group of progressive designers, innovators, planners and providers who have taken on the challenge of designing elderly care that feels right at home and better meet the needs of people in a future pandemic. The charrette included three industry partners – Fresh Hope Care, Southern Cross Care Queensland and St Vincent’s Care Services, and over 80 participants.

The charrette was a great opportunity to come together with a diverse industry group to consider ways to rethink the way we design and plan for our aging population, observed DMA Engineers Managing Director Russell Lamb.

“Over the past 18 months, many Australians have experienced what it feels like to be ‘locked in’ and isolated in a pandemic.

“For many in our society these experiences have been unpleasant, but it can be a daily reality for people who live in facilities for the elderly, whether or not there is a pandemic.

“The pandemic has highlighted some of the issues related to isolation and loneliness in care and the industry’s vulnerability to events like the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Lamb said the industry needed to find ways to keep elderly care facilities and retirement villages open to the whole community so that residents were not again completely isolated from the rest of society.

“It is possible to further integrate the care of the elderly with the rest of the community and in doing so create more opportunities for people to live fuller lives, in contact with their friends and family.

“Making people feel at home in a senior care facility is a very difficult puzzle to solve. We all come from different and diverse backgrounds where we all want to keep our identities and the more we can transfer that identity to our new community, the easier this transition will be. “

Professor Laurie Buys, director of the Healthy Aging Initiative at the University of Queensland, said the Longevity by Design charrette is important because the future is ours.

“Creating change and having impact over time cannot be done by any organization or individual, so we need to bring together some really interesting partnerships and collaborations that can bring about that change,” Prof Buys said. .

“This year has been an opportunity to come together and work with people from different disciplines, but above all with industry that thinks differently, to challenge the way we see, design and create change”, a- she declared.

“The biggest challenge in the design of elder care is the way we think. There are many fundamental structures that need to be changed, but what really holds us back is our imaginations and our willingness to challenge assumptions and create a different future.

The teams worked on one of three real-world residential senior care facilities provided by the three industry partners, where they were challenged to create visionary, innovative and highly connected designs to reimagine the nursing homes for the elderly that would feel right at home in 2031.

Subtropical Cities director and Longevity by Design charrette host Dr Rosemary Kennedy said it was important that positive models of elderly care be more visible to the community at large.

“We all want a positive future for ourselves and our families that is rich in bonding and familiarity, so it is important to open up new concepts of elderly care that people can embrace, especially at the end of their life. life.

“Many of the ideas proposed by the teams shared a common thread of physical and social connectivity and co-located multigenerational life. They also focused on the capabilities of people rather than their disability. These themes are all essential to promote purpose and meaning. “

Participants showed a preference for small house models rather than the institutional framework seen in Australia.

“Our teams have created livable neighborhoods for all ages, with productive market gardens to keep the link with the farm, a training and learning center, business opportunities, connected tourism, etc.” Dr Kennedy.

“The teams visualized spaces designed to allow seniors to continue to be creative and productive, incorporating cultural creativity, lifelong learning and enabling multigenerational living to keep them in touch with friends and family.

“Rather than standing out from the community, the teams developed concepts of ‘ageless’, five-minute communities where, at the home level, support is readily available and amenities are all within five minutes. walk from your place of residence.

“Connectivity and purpose as we age may seem obvious and what we might all want, but the teams at Longevity by Design have shown us what our future could look like if we continue to fight for it. “

Longevity by Design was a joint initiative of the University of Queensland’s Healthy Aging Initiative and DMA Engineers, with support from lead sponsor Paynters and event partners Fresh Hope Care, Southern Cross Care Queensland and St Vincent’s Care Services .


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