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Living within spaces and places designed for others

McDonald, T. A. & Turner, W. (Bill), 2011

ACAA Conference, Gold Coast, Queensland


What older people want in the design of public and private places is somewhere they can participate socially as well as accessing services independently. In 2011 many public and service places are designed in ways that deter older people from using them. Architecturally, design seems to have given way to maximising the use of space rather than preserving the quality of experience one might have while there.

Public spaces can affect interactions, power politics, and communal activities. It can even shape what is meant by difference, deviance and criminal activity. In specialised environments such as hospitals or aged care facilities, access to and use of the space is negotiated between service users, carers and families and professionals as well as managers with the outcome reflecting power-inscribed relationships between these stakeholders. Older people are central to the business of acute hospital services making it important to understand the effect on people of the way hospitals organise social space and social relations as well as physical locations for receiving therapy. The interface between older people and the health care system needs to change according to Cheek (2004) who recommends a shift in emphasis from ‘acute care for older people’ to a focus on ‘care in this setting for people who are older’.

In this presentation, experiences of older people within these spaces are explored and used as a basis for advice to contemporary designers of spaces and places to serve the irreversible trend of an ageing population, or face creating future redundant spaces.

CITATION McDonald, T. & Turner, W (2011) Living in spaces and places designed for others. Aged Care Association Australia 30th Annual Congress. “The Long and Winding Road” Gold Coast, Queensland, -8 November


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