The way we design aged care facilities can have such a profound impact on how residents feel. In particular, materiality and colour play an important role in evoking calm and nurturing emotional wellbeing. This is a vital consideration for those living with dementia and other neurological conditions and exactly what Gilmore Interior Design focused on in our full-scope design of The Salvation Army’s Kubirri Aged Care Centre.
Situated right on the banks of the Mossman River in Far North Queensland, this facility is surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. We wanted to pay tribute to this unique ecology and to the healing properties of nature more broadly. Our brief centred around designing ‘a home in a garden’; bringing the outdoors inside so that residents could benefit from the gentle stimulation we associate with being in the natural world. The earthy colour palette combined light neutrals with sage feature walls and accents of olive across the upholstery and splash-back tiling. This was complemented with a subtle motif across the carpet, reminiscent of native Australian flora, and timber-look laminate and stone finishes throughout the living and dining spaces.
Gilmore Interior Design also acknowledged the significant influence of the local Kuku-Yalanji people. Kubirri Aged Care Centre has a high population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents, so it was only fitting to celebrate their unique connection to Country through our design. This further enriched the concept of integrating the natural environment into the space, influencing the textures and materials chosen. In particular, the broadloom upholstery featured striking patterns that were inspired by the vibrancy of local Kuku Yalanji artists.
Importantly, the space was designed to be highly robust and functional for aged care residents. Given the high incidences of mental ill-health and dementia among residents, we based our design direction on the ground-breaking ‘Butterfly Household Model of Care’. First developed in the UK, this methodology recognises that sensory engagement can be hugely effective in stimulating the memories of dementia patients and promoting calm and equilibrium. Accordingly, we created ‘activity kitchens’; dedicated dining and cooking spaces that mimic a traditional home and enable resident and visitor interaction. Carpet, drapery and soft furnishings were intentionally chosen to contrast the internal walls and floor, so as to orient residents in the space, facilitate their safe movement and reduce overall environmental stress.
Given that the design process took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was especially important that Gilmore Interior Design managed the project efficiently and with consideration to the safety of all onsite. We expertly took on this leadership role, working closely with the client to present a cohesive design concept and to select and document finishes and furnishings. In addition to implementing evidence-based design strategies that specifically catered to aged care residents, another significant client priority was sustainability. This meant we selected enduring materials that consciously minimised the environmental footprint of the facility.
The Salvation Army were exceedingly pleased with the final result, particularly noting how inviting it feels for residents and staff alike. The integration of the surrounding natural environment into the internal spaces, along with the nod to Kuku Yalanji culture, makes Kubirri Aged Care Centre a truly unique facility.
The Salvation Army
JMC Architects - Julianne Field
Hanna Newman- David Martin
Aged Care Design