Installing the humble and iconic ‘Hills Hoist’ clothes line has helped a new Melbourne care facility win a major award for dementia-friendly design.
In March 2022, interior design firm de Fiddes won an award for VMCH’s Lady Lourdes House, a specialist dementia care unit within St Bernadette’s Aged Care Residence in Sunshine North in Melbourne’s north.
Lady Lourdes House, which opened in 2020, is purpose-built to meet the needs of people with severe symptoms of dementia.
It includes large private rooms with ensuites, access to shared spaces and abundant natural light, and has been designed to inspire a sense of safety, security, independence and calm.
The facility took out the ‘Best Dementia Care Design Project’ at the 2022 Build Home and Garden Awards in March.
“We’re already seeing huge benefits for residents (from this facility). Staff are also thrilled with the environment, which makes delivering such specialist care so much easier and enjoyable,” said VMCH Chief Property Officer Jason Uzice.
Lady Lourdes House includes the following features:
- It has a laundry, with a visible ‘Hills Hoist’ clothes line just outside - by doing this the facility reflects a well-known and reassuring Australian way of life and encourages hanging out the laundry - an ordinary day-to-day activity
- Colour themes selected are restful, so as not to cause too much over stimulation
- There are open and clear discreet sight lines, created by cabinetry and open sections on walls
- Automatic doors to encourage residents to venture outdoors
- Wall nooks at start of corridors highlight specifically chosen accessories and therefore aid in wayfinding
- There is no contrast in flooring as it moves from carpet to vinyl, avoiding possible falls by residents trying to step over something they can’t identify
- Introducing a number of different spaces for residents to choose, for instance a lounge, library, sunroom, enabling people to be alone or with others
- An open domestic kitchen for residents to use freely, handles on specific cupboards for them to access easily
- Bedroom cabinetry has been designed to allow for individualisation to help residents find their bedroom and create a familiar place
- Bathroom toilets were highlighted by a row of tiles behind to clearly identify the position of the toilet
- Bathroom cabinetry was designed with open shelves to allow personal items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste to encourage independence
Managing Director of de Fiddes, Debbie De Fiddes, said winning the award was an “honour”, and though the project wasn’t without its challenges, it was successful because VMCH shared its passion to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
“We worked closely with the team at VMCH who all had different areas of expertise but all working towards the same goal - improving the conditions for residents who live within aged care,” Ms de Fiddes said. “Together we produced an amazing environment that not only works for residents but also for staff.”
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