Creating a built environment that meets the needs of our elderly residents, particularly those with dementia, is one of the most significant challenges the building and design industries face today.
While the internal fitout and interior design play an important part in creating the right environment, we are now seeing some really cool technology implemented early in the construction phase.
For example, a new Aged Care facility in the Sydney suburb of Drummoyne has just spent more than two million dollars on a solution that registers when a resident walks into a room.
Sensors are placed into the floor of each room during construction, and the information is sent to the control room.
The system works in a similar way to that of touch-screen technology, picking up on the electric currents that pass through the floor. The sensors eliminate the risk of not finding for a long time following a fall.
The sensors eliminate the risk of not finding for a long time following a fall.
Matthew Downie, Chief Executive Officer of BlueWave Living Aged Care, spoke to Jobsite ANZ.
“Floor sensing technology is an emerging product, which provides another layer of supporting information with regards to resident care. Having seen two different systems in action, I can clearly see the benefits and opportunities with such a system. It enables discrete monitoring, thus helping ensure the privacy of residents.
“It can alert staff immediately to a fall or other movement, such as a resident leaving their bed to go to the bathroom late at night, exiting their room, or simply restlessly walking around the room during the night. This helps minimise risk and improve response time.
“I understand the system doesn’t rely on pressure as much as on moisture content. Thus, the system is capable of differentiating between inanimate objects and people. As the technology continues to improve and become more affordable, I see it as an invaluable addition to our systems in supporting our residents in care.”
Through these floor sensors, information is also collected and collated. This data can be used to aid in designing safer spaces. It can also provide insight into how and why falls are occurring.
Along with floor sensor technology, aged care provider Scalabrini has implemented other innovations into the new build. These include wristbands for residents which allow keyless entry to rooms and can automatically direct lifts to each resident’s living area.
By using evidence-based design, we are integrating digital technologies and human-centred principles into our aged care facilities in Australia.
The design also incorporates a completely level floor area with no steps, ramps or thresholds, as well as lighting that is dependent on the time of day.
Aged care development expert Danny Hammon of Woollam Constructions told DCWC that he believes a renewed physical design of aged care facilities should not only take into consideration the benefit of residents but also prioritise the movement of staff.
“A big thing we look at is the efficiencies within the building, and how far staff have to walk from point A to B, and try to really narrow that down to make the facility run as efficiently as possible,” he said.
Taking a quick peek at some internal fittings, Australian company Enware has developed a range of plumbing solutions specifically for aged care. Their innovative products include soft-touch tapware which uses colour contrast to assist those with vision problems. They also have coloured toilet seats to help the user distinguish the toilet from a white tiled floor and folding support arms to increase the level of safety when they are using the bathroom. The design aims at increasing independence.
By using evidence-based design, we are integrating digital technologies and human-centred principles into our aged care facilities in Australia. We can expect to see more and more facilities moving away from the standard institutional setting to create a more home-like environment promoting independence through good design and latest technology.
Photo courtesy of Alphacare