Tuesday 11 April 2017
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Aged-care - Improved Facilities


MR FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, this will be of interest to you too.  As you will see, it is about aged care, the quality of life, and looming large in some -

Ms Rattray - Self-interest.

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - Perhaps not so much for the member for Elwick, on his own cognisance.  Mr President, we hear much about aged-care funding or the lack of it, but there is little focus on the quality of life for elderly persons, particularly those in aged-care facilities.  Elderly people usually end up in those facilities because of a lack of mobility, and that is the problem.  Few nursing homes are specifically designed to provide a satisfactory quality of life for elderly people who find it hard to get around.

Australian architects are world leaders in designing homes that integrate the indoors with outdoor living.  Aged-care facilities should do the same, and I must say some are woeful with residents rarely experiencing sunshine and fresh air.

I made this point last Friday in a speech at the annual aged-care conference of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

Geoff Martin, a friend of mine from Sydney, is an expert in designing nursing homes, and he has a number of criteria for improving the quality of life for residents.  I would like to quote from an email he sent to me about his concept -

Ninety per cent of the wards are single-bed wards with a TV, a bay window with a bench below the windowsill.  All areas of the nursing homes are equipped with wi‑fi, which is useful to some residents who can still use a computer.

Some double wards with twin single beds are provided for couples - that is, husband and wife, two brothers or sisters, or some residents who do not like being alone.

All wards overlook landscaped gardens and courtyards with those outdoor paved areas.

Large lounges are located throughout the building and what we call 'smaller day lounges', which are more intimate which can be used for, say, a birthday party.

All lounge and dining rooms have direct access to outdoor paved areas and gardens.

A cinema shows movies at various times during the day.

There is an activities room for various arts and craft activities.  The activities program includes wheelchair-accessible garden areas and planter boxes for gardening activities.

There is a hairdressing salon and a coffee shop where visitors can take residents.

Recently we have included an aquarium and a fully computerised electric train set which cost $30 000, which is proving very popular with the boys.

I might digress, too -

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - The point Geoff made to me was when you have difficulty getting the grandkids to come and visit, put in an electric train set and it is not a problem.  They are busting to get there as you are now busting to get there, I can tell.  I continue -

While it is not practical for residents to have pets, visitors are allowed to bring their own pets and the homes are allowed to keep a dog or a cat, which is looked after by staff.

An ideal nursing home would be designed in a figure-eight configuration formed around two large courtyards with no dead-end corridors.

Geoff Martin's nursing home concept is a far cry from some Tasmanian facilities.  Mr President, you might recall that last September I delivered a special interest speech about one of my constituents, Joan Webb, who did her PhD thesis on creative poetry and prose programs for the frail elderly.  At 90 years of age she is evidently the oldest person to get a doctorate through the Tasmanian university.  Wonderful.

Joan says creative disciplines have remarkable results - 'better health, less medication and more socialisation'.  Common sense, but rarely practised.  There are some great ideas out there for making life better for aged-care residents.  Let us hope they are in place when we need them.