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Building with impact

The 80s and 90s

“What struck me moving into the sector was how we were looking at residential care homes – that were only 25 years old – with shared bedrooms and large-scale dining rooms that would sit 60 people – and they were no longer fit for purpose,” Graham Reed said.

Graham, employed with ACH Group from 1985 to 1999, was responsible for developing new residential care homes and retirement living units, and then moved into managing the residential care operations.

“We recognised the losses that people experienced when they moved into residential care homes; they had very little flexibility on when they could get up or the meals they could choose. There was a small group of providers who were wanting to challenge the status quo. ACH Group was part of this and a lot of how we designed the new care homes was on the principles of SRV, enabling residents to maintain valuable roles and minimise losses.”

The fourth care home, West Park, located in the Fleurieu township of Goolwa was built in the mid-1980s.

The development combined the latest thinking in aged care accommodation with a resident’s need for privacy and the importance of maintaining valued roles at the forefront. West Park featured 10 one-bedroom cottages and four houses each with 10 single rooms and ensuites, a kitchen and two lounge dining areas.

“The design principle for West Park was centred around creating a more home-like and less institutionalised environment.” Graham Reed

West Park Residential Care Home in Goolwa
West Park Residential Care Home in Goolwa

The fifth care home, Colton Court, in McLaren Vale opened in 1990, with a 20-person home and 10 one-bedroom units.

Colton Court had a couple of things that were quite unique at the time.

One, it was built by a smaller domestic builder as opposed to a corporate construction company as we wanted a home-like feel.

Two, we wanted to ensure that every unit had a front and back door. The front door opened onto the street so visitors could visit whenever they wanted and the back door opened on to the service corridors where all the services – the meals, medication, staff access, cleaning, laundry – came in through. For residents this made it feel more like a neighbourhood where people could drop in and say hello through your front door,” Graham said.

“I recall visiting a gentleman who had moved into a Colton Court unit who was able to maintain an active interest in his professional vocation simply through having enough space in the unit to accommodate his work desk and records.” Graham Reed

Historical photo of Colton Court residents in the early 2000s
Residents of Colton Court in the early 2000s. (Left) residents enjoying wood carving. (Right) residents enjoying their private front porch.

“ACH Group didn’t need to be the biggest, we just wanted to be innovative. This influenced our design of retirement living where we intentionally focussed on building smaller scale developments integrated into the community, close to public transport, amenities and shopping centres, to support residents to continue to live their lives and maintain the roles they had prior to moving in.

We were very intentional about not creating gated communities, instead we were focussed on residents maintaining connections outside of where they lived.”

New millennium

By the new millennium, there were updated ideas and factors influencing the design of residential care homes. While the home-like environment remained at the forefront, subtle changes were being made to the design influenced by ACH Group’s reablement approach and the fact Australians were staying at home longer, so the needs of residents moving to care homes had dramatically shifted.

In 2002 Yankalilla Centre opened, followed by Highercombe in Hope Valley in 2010, and ViTA in Daw Park in 2014.

Trudy Sutton said: “We were looking at additional space in resident’s rooms to increase accessibility, there were smaller communal dining areas, we brought the outside in with easily accessible gardens built within the home’s layout, and internal and external gyms were a necessity. To further remove the home from a hospital setting, no handrails were installed in either Highercombe or ViTA.”

Current ACH Group Chair Mary Patetsos said: “The new millennium heralded ACH Group’s new partnerships with the health and education sectors. At Yankalilla we partnered with the local medical practice and at ViTA we brought aged care, health, teaching, and research together with an innovative partnership comprising ACH Group, SA Health and Flinders University.

“ViTA not only reimaged aged care and provided the future workforce with opportunities to experience aged care firsthand, but supported the state’s hospital system in providing care to patients transitioning from acute care back into their homes.” Mary Patetsos

“ViTA’s unique combination of partners, health co-location, innovative services, education and research made it a national first in aged care and has greatly influenced the design and partnerships of ACH Group’s ninth care home, Healthia.”

Read The ACH Group Story, reflecting on the past and present, and look to the future.

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4 hours ago

Welcome to our ‘Rock & Roll era’. 🧑‍🎤

At Highercombe, residents and staff stepped back to the 1950s, listening to the catchy melodies that turned the music world upside down in their days!

With those upbeat rhythms and iconic tunes, we were all transported back to a time of boundless energy and a rebellious spirit. It's still so much fun, connecting the different generations, and reminding everyone of the joy that music brings across ages and backgrounds.

As Elvis would say… Thank you, thank you very much! 🕺
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Welcome to our ‘Rock & Roll era’. 🧑‍🎤
 
At Highercombe, residents and staff stepped back to the 1950s, listening to the catchy melodies that turned the music world upside down in their days! 
 
With those upbeat rhythms and iconic tunes, we were all transported back to a time of boundless energy and a rebellious spirit. Its still so much fun, connecting the different generations, and reminding everyone of the joy that music brings across ages and backgrounds. 
 
As Elvis would say… Thank you, thank you very much! 🕺Image attachmentImage attachment+7Image attachment