New Victorian care facility challenges standard models of segregation, institutionalisation
Yacknadandah Health’s new two-wing facility has been designed for sustainability. (ABC Goulburn Murray: Eliza Beck)
An intergenerational home that aims to take a different approach to care is set to open in Victoria’s north this week.
Yackandandah Health’s two-wing building has 16 residential aged care rooms upstairs and 10 apartments for people of any ages downstairs.
This approach, known as the Yackandandah Model, challenges care services built around age segregation and aims to better unite aged care residents with the community.
“It’s not a hospital and we have to stop managing [care facilities] as [hospitals],” Yackandandah Health chief executive Annette Nuck said.
“Being old is not an illness, so we’re not treating it as one.”
Ms Nuck said community consultation had identified the independence of residents as a priority.
“What we’ve created here are two homes where eight people will live in residential aged care, throwing the medical model out of the window,” she said.
“We won’t remove the ability for people to have a say if they’re okay to do the tasks themselves.
“We’ll provide excellent medical care as required, but we will give much more choice and independence for the people who live with us.”
Breaking from normal routines
Yackandandah Health committee member Tricia Glass said she was passionate about the progressive approach to aged care.
her mother, who suffers from severe dementia, is a resident in the existing facility.
“You don’t have to be institutionalised,” Ms Glass said.
“It’ll be like being at home and being assisted and helped.”
Yackandandah Health committee member Tricia Glass (left) and Yackandandah Health chief executive Annette Nuck. (ABC Goulburn Murray: Eliza Beck)
This month, two of Ms Glass’s elderly aunts are moving into the new building, and have some fear of losing their independence and identity.
“One says she’s not old, she’s 95, and the other one is 87,” Ms Glass said.
“They’ve been living together independently in Mudgegonga.
“They came over a couple of weeks ago and they couldn’t believe what we’re offering here.
“That it’s a kitchen, it’s a lounge room, except it’s all brand-spanking new — it’s a home.”
Breaking from the medical model means deviating from standard routines and adapting to residents’ individual needs.
“One of the noticeable things in residential aged care is that everything is staged, it occurs to schedules,” Ms Nuck said.
“We want things to be more spontaneous.”
Sustainability a key feature
The health facility is owned and run by the Yackandandah community, and has a goal of being totally renewable by 2022.
Ms Nuck said the community was quite particular about using energy-efficient measures.
“Just because you’re building something that’s big or has a healthcare purpose, doesn’t mean you don’t tick all those boxes,” she said.
The building was designed by JWP Architects from Wodonga, and incorporates passive design features that take advantage of the natural climate to maintain the building’s temperature, reducing the need for supplementary heating and cooling.
The health facility is owned and run by the Yackandandah community, and has a goal of being totally renewable by 2022. (ABC Murray Goulburn: Eliza Beck)
Architect Amber Jacks said the two wings came about so plenty of solar gain was able to be achieved.
“We incorporated solar chimneys where it allowed light into the centre of the building as well as allowing hot air to escape when you open the windows,” she said.
“There is plenty of cross-flow ventilation across the whole facility.
“We also installed solar panels which heat the hot water for that building.”
Making it feel like home
Many of Yackandandah Health’s residents have come from rural backgrounds and find leaving the land challenging.
“The building was orientated so it could acquire views,” Ms Jacks said.
“On the first floor with the residential beds there are bay windows that are angled off, so that way they’ve got their own private captured view, but also, they’re not overlooking each other.”
Another priority was to design the facility in a way that it looked like a home.
“You’ll notice that you can’t see the nursing stuff, the hand basins for hand washing are in cupboards, the fire extinguishers are in cupboards,” Ms Nuck said.
“Staff will know where they are but they’re not in your face, so it looks like a home.”
The next stage of the Yackandandah Model will connect the community with aged care residents by creating shared spaces.
“One of the things we’re really trying to do here is to really integrate our service with the community,” Ms Nuck said.
“We don’t like the model that’s widely replicated in Australia where you basically lock people up separate from the rest of the community after they get to a certain age.
“We are working towards opening a new childcare centre on our site at the start of 2019 and we recently received funding for a care sanctuary, which connects people to animals and the land.
“This will be for the whole community.”