How good design can make aged care facilities feel more like home

The stark difference between an aged care “home” and a real home has been laid bare by the COVID pandemic.

Residential aged care buildings are often institutionally designed, even if they have the appearance of a hotel. Think long corridors, vast dining rooms, nursing stations and bland corporate furnishings.

These design choices support a model of care underpinned by cost efficiencies rather than real people’s rhythms of daily life.

So, how can we make aged care facilities feel more like home, while keeping them pandemic-safe?

A woman with a walker goes through a garden.

How can we make aged care facilities feel more like home, while keeping them pandemic-safe? Shutterstock

More like a ‘container’ than a home

Residential aged care facilities are deeply restrictive environments; some have compared them to prisons.

During the pandemic, things were made worse as residents were denied the right to leave their rooms or have visitors. For many residents, it must feel like

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At Home: HGTV’s ‘Good Bones’ star promotes inclusivity in new kids’ book | Lifestyle

I’ve always said, I do not see a line between where home life stops and home design begins. It’s a blur to me. Mina Starsiak-Hawk, the star of HGTV’s home renovation show “Good Bones” and author of a new children’s book, “Built Together,” agrees and has taken that viewpoint a step further.

The premise of her book is that the same principles should apply whether building a house or building a family.

In “Built Together,” adorably illustrated by Barbara Bongini, the little boy narrator wonders whether his mom and dad will need a hammer and nails to build a family, or maybe they’ll need a drill and monkey wrench, tile and grout, bricks and mortar, paint and brushes. Whatever the case, he wants to help.

Spoiler alert: He eventually learns the building blocks of a home are kindness, love and inclusivity.

“I wanted to show young readers that families come

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