The population of people aged 65 years and older is growing. According to Vancouver Coastal Health, this demographic makes up 11.8% of Vancouver’s population with an expected increase to 21.3% by 2036 (Vancouver Coastal Health, 2013).
Currently, Vancouver has 603 publicly funded assisted living beds, 28 publicly funded hospice beds, and 3,886 residential care beds (Vancouver Coastal Health, 2013). It can be projected that the number of residential beds will increase roughly in proportion to the local population. As a result, the demand in residential care coupled with the cultural shift in which we view aging suggests that the designed space for long-term care needs to appropriately facilitate and preserve health and wellness.
Residential Care for Me was a collaboration project between the Quality Improvement Team at Providence Health Care (PHC) and the Health Design Lab (HDL) at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in response to this challenge. Aim to improve the quality of life for residents on a holistic level, this project strives to understand what factors affect the quality of residential care by piecing together the individual experience of people who live, work, and visit their several locations.
Traditionally, many residential care environments within Vancouver reference an acute care model—a clinical environment similar to a hospital and houses multi-bed rooms. As a result, many residents feel these care homes are more institutional than actual homes. This creates a stressor and pain point for the residents as they often feel trapped and unable to rest.
To relieve these pain points and create a better environment, the design team at HDL was hired by PHC to explore and propose possible improvements to the physical environment to help achieve comfort and empowerment within a facility through the implementation of short-term design prototypes and recommendation for future long-term changes.