On 18 August a group of Australia’s best aged and healthcare design consultants assembled in Sydney for Care Connect – Designing a healthy future for all Australians.

The event was invitation-only and its aim was to uncover the challenges and opportunities facing those parties involved in the care sector through a novel event platform.

The innovation came in its format which was structured around a series of rotating peer-to-peer discussion tables of up to 10 executives, each focussing on key themes nominated by sponsors with a keen interest in the happenings of the sector.

While the idea was to establish a great learning environment for delegates, where discussion could lead to the discovery of new design strategies and solutions, a lot of the benefit also went by way of the sponsors.

The format allowed delegates to collectively brainstorm the challenges they face when designing their health and aged care projects, and then give feedback to product suppliers regarding what they needed from them in order to overcome those challenges.  Key themes included flooring, access drainage, accessible tapware, prefab bathrooms and high-performance external facades, and the feedback from delegates and sponsors thus far has been excellent.

Most delegates agreed that it was refreshing and productive to have building product manufacturers and suppliers engage with them in an honest, forthright and non-scripted way, while feedback from suppliers was that they enjoyed working with the architects to discover new useful design solutions in a collaborative manner.  

Suppliers also heard feedback and concerns from delegates regarding their products and services, and walked away with invaluable notes that will help guide future product development and marketing strategies.


Two keynotes and a panel discussion also occurred on the day and were, for most, highlights. Presentations from Arch Fotheringham, Director of Health Projects from Brookfield Multiplex, and Rob Puflett, Studio Leader and Partner from Thomson Adsett were particularly enlightening.

Speaking with delegates following the conclusion of the event, a general consensus was that Fotheringham’s keynote provided invaluable insights for those design consultants seeking to enter the hospital and healthcare facility sector, while Puflett’s presentation gave a clear perspective on what it takes to design top-level aged care facilities.

Fotheringham’s presentation focussed on technology and the role it will play in the design of Australian healthcare buildings in the future and how architects, through their designs and procurement strategies, can best stay on top of such technology.

The key, says Fotheringham, is to remain flexible during design and procurement so that the very latest and best technology can be implemented right before project handover – “just in time” or “at the last minute” as he often repeated.

High levels of consultation between design and construction teams, facilities management teams and end-users is also critical, says Fotheringham, so that the facility and its technology remain relative and useable for as long as possible for end-users.

Puflett also emphasised technology and consultation in his presentation and regarded them as two of the pillars supporting his firm’s unparalleled success in the Australian aged care sector.

He noted how Thomson Adsett is embracing bio data and new smart technologies, and is integrating cross disciplinary design methods in its new crop of aged care facilities. He also shared valuable insight into Thomson Adsett’s business strategy which emphasises consultation, investing in change, developing diverse design skill sets and providing consumer centric buildings.


Care Connect was the third in a series of events Architecture & Design is hosting under the Connect model. Planning is already underway for a fourth – Commercial Connect—which will take place on 13 October in Sydney.

Stay tuned for more information. 

Care Connect was proudly supported by Enware Australia, Hewlett Packard, Innowood Australia, Interpod Offsite, Polyflor and Stormtech.