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Aged-Care Developments Reaching New Heights


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Photo courtesy of The Urban Developer

With an ageing population in Australia and a shift in the lifestyle our retirees expect, we are currently seeing a focus on future changes to aged care development across the country.

While there are mixed opinions over the increase in multi-story aged care developments, we need to understand that the baby boomers are soon to be the target client. This certainly should affect what is on offer at new facilities.

Jobsite talked to Dr Rodney Jilek about his views on high-rise developments in aged care.

“This is one of the biggest issues facing aged care developers—how to build an offering that will appeal to those seeking aged care services now without being obsolete in a few short years."

“It's an interesting concept that may offer an appealing option for baby boomers, but I doubt it will be popular amongst the current cohort of aged care residents,” said Dr Jilek. “This is one of the biggest issues facing aged care developers—how to build an offering that will appeal to those seeking aged care services now without being obsolete in a few short years. After all, the expectations are predicted to change dramatically.”

Dr Jilek went on to say, “High-rise residential aged care works fine, but it is competing with a fantasy notion that aged care residents need access to gardens and outdoor spaces. The reality is the vast majority never venture outside even when it is available. Besides, the experience could easily be reproduced through the use of indoor garden spaces (such as the indoor rainforest at Singapore Changi airport) or through balcony space.”

Jill Taylor, Recreational Activities Officer who works directly with residents at a four-storey aged care facility in Queensland, seems to agree. “At our facility, the only outdoor areas are a sensory garden for the dementia residents, and long verandahs on each of the levels,” says Taylor. “A small number of residents use the verandahs for their meals, but apart from that, they remain mostly unused.”

According to Dr Jilek, there are enormous differences in build cost at the moment—the highest he has seen recently is $50 million for a 100-bed home in NSW and as little as $10 million for one the same size in QLD. 

It has been recently announced that Aveo Group has received planning approval for a spectacular $62.5 Million Gold Coast retirement tower. The approval follows the recent completion of Aveo’s 19-storey Newstead village in Brisbane.

The 2,015m2 site is set to accommodate a 16-storey, independent living complex. Once complete, it will house over 150 seniors. With design documentation underway, Aveo is yet to appoint a builder. The tender process is predicted to commence in the coming months, with anticipated completion in 2020.

The tower, located at Labrador, will be the third vertical village on the Gold Coast following Victoria Towers and The Henley on Broadwater.

Featuring 96 units, the new village amenities will include a heated pool, gym, sauna, community lounge, media room, dining and bar facilities plus consultancy rooms for visiting medical staff.

It seems the Gold Coast is a hot spot for these types of developments. According to The Weekly Source, the Gold Coast has seen 12 submissions to Council since early 2017.

One such submission is Japara’s $30 million, six-storey facility, designed by architects Cottee Parker with builder Woollam Constructions. This particular development will allow residents to opt for small, apartment-style living, with some suites boasting floor plans of up to 40sqm, kitchenettes and writing desks.

Moving toward the future, having an aged care facility within the city may be an ideal option for older people who enjoy the city lifestyle and prefer not to move to a suburban aged care facility. It will often come down to a lifestyle choice.

These multi-level developments may also work well in regions where services are harder to access in the outer suburbs. It makes sense to keep such facilities, and their residents, close to the city, with all essential services within easy reach. In many areas, where land is scarce, the only thing left to do this is to build up.

 Whether regenerating existing buildings or developing new sites, it is an entirely different beast to constructing low-rise buildings on large tracts of land.

According to Liam Manning, when it comes to construction, building in inner city locations come with a raft of challenges. Whether regenerating existing buildings or developing new sites, it is an entirely different beast to constructing low-rise buildings on large tracts of land. Developments become more project-specific, land and construction costs are higher, and building metrics are different.Moreover,  greater due diligence is required regarding site assessments and business cases to determine the feasibility of the development. 

While high-rise aged care is still new to Australia, Aveo has received a positive reaction to their 19-storey development in Newstead—it’s got excellent feedback from more than 100 current residents and over 800 enquiries from the Community.

“We believe seniors are looking for a framework of a community with access to premium facilities and services where residents can age in place over time…,” says a spokesman for Aveo. 

As these towers start to pop up across the country, we have news that Stockland has lodged plans for a $181.5 million 29-storey tower in Epping which is just 22 km from the City of Sydney. This will certainly be a project worth watching.

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