for Dignity

A quality design framework in the aged care sector provides an enhanced standard of living for end-users.

Promoting a sense of identity and belonging in ageing residents is important. Encouraging independence and ensuring residents are supported with navigational and other ‘design for dignity’ measures is crucial.

These needs are personified and variable for those with cognitive conditions like dementia that impair communication. Using considered wayfinding, signage, and other design elements can be a quality-of-life game changer.

Aged Care Quality
and Safety Commission

Diadem is supportive to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s plan for continuous improvement in the sector. This can be realised through considered design outcomes that create environments to promote residents’ safety and the retention of qualified staff.

Providing a safe and comfortable service environment for aged care clients is a major priority. Whether it be spaces that are easier to navigate, or the use of signs and symbols to assist with spatial communication, effective wayfinding demonstrates how designing for dignity makes the environment welcoming and easy to understand for residents.

for dignity

Diadem upholds the principles of Universal Design with great respect across all sectors we work in. Universal Design in aged care is particularly relevant in achieving a ‘design for dignity’ outcome. Aged care residents span a range of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds with varying physical and cognitive abilities. Creating an inclusive environment is a key priority resulting in direct flow-on benefits for all users.

Reducing the level of noise and clutter in spaces and removing potential ‘trigger’ colours and shapes that may cause confusion are some of the measures we consider when designing for Australia’s aged care environments. In addition, the use of symbols and pictures in place of text and other traditional signage elements greatly improves mobility and efficiency.

Aged Care

Diadem was engaged by Uniting Aged Care over four years to assist with a signage strategy and rollout for its sites across New South Wales and the ACT. The project represents our ongoing commitment to the ‘design for dignity’ ethos we adopt across the sector, seeking to make these environments safer for residents and staff.

Using colour in visual communication helps improve recognition and simplify complex information. For example, yellow and black provide enhanced contrast and legibility. During the design process, we developed a colour-coded system for the identification and wayfinding signs to improve usability and enhance meaning.

Beyond signage and in place of text or numbers, memory boxes filled with personal memorabilia items were also placed outside every room, helping residents identify their personal space. Using pictograms on house directories was another alternate solution to text-based signage, helping residents to overcome language barriers and comprehension difficulties.

Uniting Aged Care

Improving aged care
environments for staff retention

Diadem helps to connect people to places. Good design founded in evidence-based practice will benefit the aged care sector. This is something we feel strongly about, and we believe we can make a positive contribution in enhancing design for dignity for both residents and staff.

Equal consideration must be given to staff amenity in Australia’s aged care environments. This issue is largely overlooked in many Aged Care Commissions Reports and discussions, despite its importance in ensuring a high retention rate for aged care workers.

We see great value in creating refreshing new ways to improve staff amenities in aged care facilities. This includes collaboration to reimagine indoor and outdoor dwell spaces for dining and reading, calming, wellness and relaxation spaces, and refurbished bathrooms. In an associated project, our client’s improved staff retention when they upgraded staff rooms and refurbished other staff areas to create more inspiring and welcoming work environments. Our thinking goes beyond signage.

In conjunction with improving the physical experience for residents and staff, we’ve found that providing additional services like research and audits, benchmarking and client feedback surveys, all help to build sustainable outcomes.

Working with aged care service providers, Diadem views all our advice through the lens of creating value. We envisage a ‘future state’ where the user experience sits at the centre of all design for dignity projects. In this realm, Diadem looks at the entire facility’s ecosystem from site identification and placemaking, user journey and experience, landscape and amenity, accessibility, and wellness. The results are best-practise, customer-centric and value-laden outcomes for all users.


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