IDEAS

Designing
for Dignity

A quality design framework in the aged care sector provides an enhanced standard of living for end-users. Improved wayfinding, signage and design promotes an important sense of identity and belonging in aged care residents. These ‘design for dignity’ measures support people living with cognitive conditions like dementia that impairs communication.

Improved wayfinding, signage and design promotes an important sense of identity and belonging in aged care residents. These ‘design for dignity’ measures support people living with cognitive conditions like dementia that impairs communication.

Aged Care Quality
and Safety Commission

Diadem is committed to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s plan for continuous improvement in the sector. This is realised through considered design outcomes that create environments to promote both the safety of residents 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 design for dignity makes the service environment welcoming and easy to understand for residents.

Designing
for dignity

The principles of universal design are held by Diadem with great respect across all sectors we work across. 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 as well as physical and cognitive abilities. Creating an inclusive environment is a key priority that has direct flow on benefits for all users.

Reducing the level of noise and clutter in a space, as well as 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. The use of symbols and pictures in place of text and other traditional signage elements greatly improve mobility and efficiency.

Uniting
Aged Care

Diadem was engaged by Uniting Aged Care over a four-year period 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.

The use of colour in visual communication helps to improve recognition and simplify complex information. Yellow and black provides enhanced contrast and legibility. As part of the design process Diadem colour coded the identification and wayfinding signs to improve usability and enhance meaning.

Beyond signage, memory boxes filled with items of personal memorabilia were also placed outside every room, helping residents in identifying their rooms in place of text or numbers. The use of pictograms on house directories was another alternative solution to text-based signage, helping to overcome language barriers and comprehension difficulties among aged care residents.

Uniting Aged Care

Improving aged care
environments for staff retention

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.

Diadem sees great value in creating refreshing new ways to improve staff amenities in aged care facilities. This includes indoor and outdoor dwell spaces for dining and reading, calming wellness and relaxation spaces and refurbished bathrooms. In an associated project, Diadem worked with Coles supermarkets to upgrade staffrooms as well as refurbish the back-of-house to create more inspiring and welcoming work environments for staff.

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, and we believe we can make a positive contribution in enhancing design for dignity.

This includes not only improving the physical experience for residents and staff but also providing additional services like research and audits, benchmarking and client feedback surveys aimed at helping 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 ecosystem from site identification and placemaking, user journey and experience, landscape and amenity, accessibility and wellness. The result is best-practise, customer-centric and value-laden outcomes.

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