Technology changing the face of seniors design

Traditionally, our economy has been based on capital and physical possessions. Now, there's a new type of economy emerging – one that is digital, social and human, and based on joy and experience.

'Glocalisation' will play a key role in the future design of seniors living and aged care facilities. The term refers to the adaptation of global innovations, theories and practices to suit the unique characteristics of local market conditions. Designers and industry experts are increasingly looking to the global marketplace for emerging concepts that can be adapted to the local retirement living and care service sector.

As part of this, technology is a crucial factor changing the way we design. For example, neuroscience and empathy mapping are being increasingly used to gain a deeper insight into seniors needs. This places the consumer at the very centre of design, through every stage of the process.

As well as connecting through technology, we know that social connection is a key factor to our happiness and wellbeing. Some aged care operators are already responding to this concept and planning senior-friendly neighbourhoods that facilitate connections, in inner-city and suburban hubs. We need to provide personalised care, and create places for meaningful experiences – where care can be delivered and a fulfilling life lived.

Similarly, human-to-human connection will be increasingly gained from the merging of building typologies. Hospitals, schools and universities are integrating with retirement living and aged care to provide greater intergenerational learning and networking opportunities.

Design is absolutely vital to the successful integration of digital, social and human factors of seniors living and aged care. As designers, we'll increasingly see the need to consider the three S’s – scenery, services and structure. Scenery is the immediate setting and environment of a building; the services can stay in place for up to 25 years; and the structure can last for hundreds of years. The decisions we make now will impact the longevity of a building, and if we design without considering the structure in particular, aged care facilities won't be viable for the future.

When recently designing the high-end retirement village, Streeton Park, the team at ThomsonAdsett were conscious of the need to consider different lifestyles and interests, while simultaneously designing for longevity. The development is one of Australia’s most progressive and forward-thinking aged care facilities, and combines learnings from 30 years of working in Australia and Asia Pacific.

The elderly will no longer need to give up their lifestyle when leaving their homes – it's an exciting time to be designing for seniors living!

This article was written by the team at ThomsonAdsett, a Retirement Living Council corporate partner and associate sponsor of the National Retirement Living Summit 2016.