Consumer experiences shaping aged care spaces and services

Consumers and staff at a recent workshop

Westmead Hospital’s aged care facilities are being refurbished, transforming the hospital’s care of older people. Consumers are sharing their experiences as carers and patients in hospital, to influence design and operations.

Westmead Hospital’s aged care department is being expanded. The new space will include a specialised behavioural management unit, while the geriatric inpatient unit will also be refurbished.

Westmead Redevelopment’s director of service redesign Amanda Green said co-design with consumers was crucial to the detailed design process.

During a recent consumer workshop, community members shared stories of their hospital experiences, either as an older patient or as a carer of an older person.

“Some of these stories were very personal and emotional to re-tell; we appreciate their patient-centred perspectives - it challenge us to do better,” Amanda said.

Consumers noted the power of language when speaking with patients and carers, particularly when an older patient is distressed and disorientated and a carer isn’t present. The group suggested initial admissions processes could be improved to capture techniques and information staff can use to diffuse negative patient behaviours. For example, a patient may prefer to be called by a nickname rather than their legal name. This single piece of information may be the difference between getting a distressed patient’s attention and improving their ability to communicate with staff, or a situation escalating. Consumers also noted there may be some discussion topics or words that trigger negative behaviours or emotions that are best to avoid.

The group discussed the experience of waiting between tests, the return of results, and challenges during the changeover between family members or carers visiting a patient. Noticeboards and SMS messaging services were proposed to improve communications with patients, carers and families.

The expanded geriatric inpatient unit will include 10 acute aged beds and an eight-bed behavioural management unit. The behavioural management unit will be a specialised unit providing a safe clinical zone for patients with severe behavioural disturbances and dementia. The unit will have a range of features and amenities, including a sensory room, a large patient and family lounge, and a bespoke outdoor courtyard created for the wellbeing of patients.

Construction will commence soon, with work expected to be completed in 2019. These works are part of stage 2 of the Westmead Redevelopment’s refurbishment program which is transforming more than 30 per cent of the clinical areas in Westmead Hospital and is expected to be completed by 2022.

Find out more about the Westmead Hospital refurbishment program.

Related information

  • Read a summary of stage 2 of the Westmead Hospital refurbishment program.
  • Find out how community members can get involved  in the Westmead Redevelopment project.

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