Design is More than Just Buildings

old woman

In 2014, the care minister suggested that there could be a role for CCTV in care homes, after a BBC panorama documentary revealed poor and sometimes violent treatment of pensioners in a care home in Essex. The BBC reports that more than a third of care homes that had been handed warning notices since 2011 still did not meet the basic standard required.

These claims of abuse came from both private and public sectors, with fingers generally pointed at managers. At BSBA, one of our specialties is designing supported housing for older persons so we sat down to discuss the role building design can play to prevent abuse happening in new schemes and what’s needed to give managers the best chance of creating and maintaining caring communities.

Policing by CCTV may make staff accountable, but cameras won’t encourage mutual respect between carer and patient. The cost of helping prevent abuse, neglect and theft will be an unacceptable indignity for residents in their own private rooms.
What’s needed to give managers the best chance of creating and maintaining caring communities?

We believe that abuse is much less likely to happen in thoughtfully-designed buildings that help managers create caring communities of staff and residents. So we came up with three Architect’s points to help managers create positive organisational cultures within older person schemes:

– We like working with regulatory design standards, but not at the expense of professional judgement. Managers need schemes that are aspirational and go beyond what’s acceptable.

– Good Buildings come from good design processes owned by housing professionals, not accountants.

– Saving money on communal spaces and staff areas won’t create the lively, stimulating work environments that attract the right people and tell management and carers the work they do is valued.

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