Aged care facilities were not always the most stylish of places, with some earning monikers like ‘God’s waiting rooms’. However, things have changed for this growing sector.
Designed by architects Boffa Robertson Group and exterior detail architect Jackson Teece Architects as well as interior architectural practice, CHADA, the brief was influenced by research into consumer demands and future needs, as well a range of newly-available construction materials.
For its part, CHADA is better known for its high-end hotel and residential designs including The Hilton, Hayman Island Resort, and the Pan Pacific in Singapore.
According to SummitCare director, Peter Wohl, the move to hire a practice with such strong hospitality experience was done deliberately because consumer expectations for future aged care environments are rapidly changing.
“Getting the design right was critical. We wanted to create an environment that helps to deliver our values of warmth, worth and wellbeing – so every resident can continue to live life on their own terms,” says Wohl.
CHADA’s hospitality experience is telling in the 186-suite building, that would not look out of place in some glossy holiday advertisement.
With its light, spacious, stylish and comfortable feel and facilities that includes flexible living spaces, a café, hair dressers and nail spa, wellness centre, family accommodation and specially designed large suites to suit couples who want to stay together, the design has been to deliberately make the resident’s twilight years as comfortable as possible.
According to CHADA principal, Juliet Ashworth, the brief was to create a traditional aged care facility that looked more like a beautiful home, or a luxurious hotel.
“We feel confident residents and their families are going to love this new approach to aged care living,” says Ashworth.
“While it is not a hotel, the facilities and feel of SummitCare Baulkham Hills will be strikingly different to people’s preconceptions of aged care.”
“Designing a major residential aged care facility for the first time meant we had to factor in a number of operational considerations, like the mobility of residents, particularly when creating an appealing bathroom that accommodates everyone from the able bodied to the wheelchair bound,” she says.
“It’s about striking a balance between high-quality aesthetics and the need for operational appropriate materials. Too many aged care homes feel more like hospitals and consumer demands and expectations have changed,” Ashworth says.
However, the design choices were not simply made on aesthetics.
According to SummitCare Baulkham Hills CEO Cynthia Payne, everything in the design is deliberate, while at the same time, incorporating all the elements required of any aged care facility.
“This is leading edge design,” says Payne.
“It has all the elements for very complex clinical care and the design features required for dementia care.”
The SummitCare design, “is made to cater to the needs of the residents’ while keeping the beautiful feel of a hotel and a home” she says.
At the same time, notes Payne, the design is also such that local community involvement is not only possible, but actively encouraged.
“We will genuinely become an extension of the local community,” she says.
Perhaps ‘God’s waiting rooms’ have now become ‘God’s five-star resorts.’