One site fits all

Architects design centres that allow residents to stay put as their needs change. 

Australia’s ageing population is growing larger every year. According to the latest Census, people aged 60 and older are the largest demographic today and this is expected to grow from 4.2 million up to 5.1 million by 2016. Over the next decade, government forecasts indicate Australia will need to supply an additional 82,500 aged-care beds.

The Census also found that people are less inclined to want to relocate after age 65 unless they have to. They ideally want to live in accommodation that allows ageing in place, so that all their needs can be met on the one site as they progress from independent living to assisted living and aged care.

Mark Grigsby is a director of smith+tracey architects, a market leader in aged-care and retirement living design. He explains that facilities need to cater for the more active 65-year-olds and the less mobile 90-year-olds.

“We need more places that offer both low and high care on the one site,” he says.

“The ageing population is opting for properties with a better range of living and care opportunities located in or near their own neighbourhood.

“They want to maintain a sense of community and don’t want to have to eventually relocate to areas outside their support network systems.”

Although consumer demand is driving the concept of ageing in place, housing stock is limited outside of metro areas. Designing for this group in desired locations requires innovative and sustainable solutions.

Grigsby explains that higher-density sites can offer more comprehensive facilities, within one complex, in established suburbs. “Through generational change, baby boomers are now used to the concept of apartment-style living in urban and inner suburban areas.”

An example is Melbourne’s Mercy Place Parkville, which offers ageing in place with 24-hour high, low, respite and dementia-specific care. It’s only five minutes away from the city’s CBD. The design provides residents with a warm, home-like environment and a feeling of space and light, colorfully integrated within the urban area. The facility also includes lifestyle areas and a rooftop clubroom providing 360-degree views of the surrounding neighbourhood and the city.

The built landscape in suburban Melbourne is also changing to accommodate the growing population’s need to age in place.

A current smith+tracey project, BaptCare Strathalan in Macleod, will be an integrated aged-care facility for independent living, assisted living and aged care, all on the one site. Single-storey units will cater for independent living, while assisted living will be set in a four-storey building, and aged care will be provided in a three-storey, apartment-style centre.

“Macleod BaptCare will have a community interface with a chapel on site, a residents’ social club and retail component,” Grigsby says. “It will cater for visiting families and draw in the community with its crèche and playgrounds for children. Families will enjoy visiting and residents can comfortably age in place and have their needs met without having to relocate and leave their community.”

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