Earlier this month, New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell and federal Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews attended the opening of the newly built Quakers Hill Nursing Home; the site of the tragic fire on 18th November 2011 which claimed 11 lives.
Taylor Brammer Landscape Architects has played a pivotal role in achieving Domain Principal Group’s vision of creating an all-inclusive memorial garden conveying hope, remembrance and reflection at the heart of the 127 BED Residential Aged Care Home in Quakers Hill.
Gary Barnier, the managing director of Domain Principal Group told those gathered for the opening that he was always determined to rebuild. He promised himself that we would not be defeated and that “Today I get to say two words that I’ve been waiting to say for two years. We’re home.”
The design of the Quakers Hill RACF is centred around a memorial garden for the community which embraces nature for its value as a place of refuge. It provides a destination of both public and private moments, a place to remember and to gain strength through the healing power of nature that is represented by flowers, plants, running water, sky and sun.
It is in this memorial garden, the heart of the RACF, where all these elements come together to be appreciated as one. There are areas to sit and appreciate the natural elements, paths to wander, an arbor to sit under and watch the seasons change; all centred around a bubbling water feature that transfigures the sky into the garden.
The garden has created a living entity set within the community of Quakers hill. Several trees have been planted centrally in the garden with plaques to remind us of the resilience of the community, residents, the emergency services, families and staff.
The Landscape design is fundamental to the success of seniors living environments as the integration of the garden design with dementia care best practice is vital in the ongoing care and sustainability of the residents. It is well documented that up to 80% of residents living in aged care homes experience some level of dementia , therefore providing a garden with a variety of sensory stimuli based on the principles of sensitive design is fundamental to the successful care of all residents staff.
The systematic approach to the design of the landscape at Quakers Hill engages residents and staff in a holistic environment offering clear sight lines to the healing garden elements, an easy and welcoming relationship between the light and bright interiors and the green and carefully textured gardens. The gardens employ an array of texture in the foliage, providing a contrast to the carefully selected brickwork of the nursing home and adding to the clarity of the garden spaces. Pathways lead from living areas to clearly described circuits that are easy to comprehend even inside the community areas of the home. Seats, pergola, a water feature and dragonfly sculptures add to a sense of a connection with nature; the materiality of which complement the seasonal contrast of the planting throughout.
Taylor Brammer Landscape Architects actively work with our aged care clients in creating appropriately designed external spaces that go to improving social interaction and inclusion in residential aged care. Based on their experiences at Quakers Hill Nursing home among many others, James Heron and Matthew Taylor have presented papers and lectures at universities in relation to the power of landscape architecture in developing the principles of dementia care design. Read more here.