The future is ours: Re-imagining aged care in a post-pandemic era

Team Yellow Submarine - one of the winning teams at the 2021 Longevity by Design charrette

Ways of designing aged care that feels like home and can better meet people’s needs in a future pandemic was the challenge set to designers, innovators, planners and providers who gathered last month to rethink the future of residential aged care as part of the Longevity by Design charrette, hosted by The University of Queensland and DMA Engineers.

Now in its second year, the charrette brought together thought leaders and professionals across a broad range of industries, including three industry partners: Fresh Hope Care, Southern Cross Care Queensland and St Vincent’s Care Services, to re-imagine how we design aged care in a post-pandemic era.

The event won the Research category in the 2020 Future of Ageing awards in its launch year.

DMA Engineers Managing Director, Russell Lamb, said the charrette was a great opportunity to get together with a diverse industry group to look at ways we can rethink how we design and plan for our ageing population.

“Over the past 18 months, many Australians have experienced how it feels to be ‘locked-down’ and isolated in a pandemic,” Mr Lamb said.

Presentation at the 2021 Longevity by Design pitching breakfast by the Reimagined team. The presenter is Clyde Pellew from DMA Engineers.

“We can’t allow these communities to become totally isolated from the rest of society again,” he said.

DMA Engineers Managing Director, Russell Lamb

More than 80 participants took part in the charrette, which was initiated by DMA Engineers, in partnership with The University of Queensland.

The University of Queensland’s Director of the Healthy Ageing Initiative, Professor Laurie Buys, said the Longevity by Design charrette is important because the future is ours.

“Creating change and having an impact over time can’t be done by any one organisation or an individual, so we have to bring together really interesting partnerships and collaborations that can bring about that change,” Professor Buys said.

When asked what she wanted to see from the charrette, Professor Buys said she wanted to see a future where she had a lot of really good choices.

“This year was an opportunity to come together and work with people from different disciplines, but most importantly with industries who are thinking differently, to challenge the way we see, design, and create change,” she said.

“The biggest challenge for aged care design is how we think. There are many fundamental structures that need to be changed, but really what’s holding us back is our imagination and our willingness to challenge the assumptions and create a different future.”

Teams worked on one of three real-world residential aged care facilities provided by three industry partners: Fresh Hope Care, Southern Cross Care Queensland, and St Vincent’s Care Services, where they were challenged to create visionary, innovative and highly connected designs to re-imagine aged care homes that feel like home in 2031.


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