The changing face of construction in the aged-care sector.
6 September 2016

The demands of Australia’s ageing population are changing. Many of our older generation are wealthier, healthier, and more socially engaged than ever before. Expectations around quality of life have risen exponentially, and the demand for independent living arrangements and greater choice has never been higher. The challenge for aged-care providers is to ensure they have the quality facilities and services they need to attract clients in a highly competitive marketplace.

According to Total Construction’s General Manager – Victoria, Adrian Seymour, “Entering an aged-care facility was once considered the last stepping-stone to the grave. Nowadays they’re real communities where people connect with each other, create new friendships. Over the years, aged-care providers have implemented a whole swag of extra services, like hairdressing salons, cafés, beauty salons, activity areas, and so on. They’re also focussing on meeting the needs of people with dementia in much more creative and engaging ways.

“Some organisations even target well-known chefs and the quality of the meals on offer has improved quite significantly. A construction company now needs to build around the menu and kitchen equipment, and ensure the layout is flexible so food service and menu options can change over time.

“Total is finding there is a lot more interest in Early Contractor Involvement through the design development phase of an aged-care project. It’s a way for the builder to offer value engineering solutions, buildability methodologies, measurements and cost analysis, and early trade inclusion. It also allows projects to be fast-tracked by way of staging early permits. Compared to the hard tender route, ECI can shave two to three months off the final delivery date.

“In Victoria, one of Total Construction’s most recent ECI projects was for Japara Healthcare. The brief was to add an extra level of residents’ rooms to an existing six-storey facility, with a plant deck on top – all while the facility remained in operation. We were particularly pleased to be able to help with alternative construction materials while maintaining resident’s rooms during the construction sequence and maximising occupancy.”

So what advice would Adrian give to any aged-care provider considering upgrades or a new build? “I’d say look closely at your circulation space as well as the buildability components, and ask your builder how they would address construction from a maintenance standpoint. It can save you a lot of money over the long term. Very often, there are also ways to save money without sacrificing quality if you consider using alternative materials, fabrics and construction methods. The process works at its optimal level when there is ECI but a good builder will be able to come up with great solutions at any point in the engagement process.”

Got an opinion? Seen any great innovations in the sector recently? Comment away!