Patrick Ong discusses Inertia in Aged Care Archetypes

Why are we still discussing improvements to aged care accommodation in Australia? After all, few were surprised by the recent Royal Commission’s report recommending smaller resident groupings.

The answer to the preceding question is likely, “institutional creep”, a tendency for operations to drift away from an unfamiliar ideal and back to established ways*.

“It’s always, always, always easier to do things the usual way …” Dr Bill Thomas.

Institutional creep can be addressed through establishing well-defined goals at the inception of a project followed by an uncompromising pursuit by the project team to maintain those goals. Minimizing institutional creep requires an experienced design team with a competent understanding of operations and practical solutions. A team skilled to manoeuvre cynicisms into constructive outcomes.

For instance, with a renewed interest in the Small House model, there may be tendencies to solely reduce bed numbers within clusters, when in effect, it needs to consider social interactions, audio and visual cues, homelike settings, ability to manage sensory stimuli, and a complementary mindset in care provision.

The Australian aged care industry is well equipped to improve aged care accommodation. Industry media has long cited global exemplars often including the Apartments for Life introduced by Humanitas, the Green House model first conceived by Dr Bill Thomas, and De Hogeweyk, the world’s first dementia village.

A collaboration of determined and like-minded thought leaders can lead to new archetypes, and contribute to world’s best practices in aged care accommodation.

Published by Patrick Ong, FMSA Principal Seniors Living, 9 Aug 2021