Image courtousy of Domain Principal Group (DPG).
Fifteen months after the Quakers Hill Nursing Home fire that claimed 11 lives and partially destroyed the building, work has begun on a new contemporary high-care residential facility for 128 residents.
An official sod turning ceremony was held earlier this month, where NSW Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance joined with and Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins at what is now a building site.
The new Quakers Hill Nursing Home, in Sydney’s west, is scheduled to open in early next year and will be three times the size of the old facility, with a purpose-built wing designed to cater for people with dementia.
The new residence includes 104 resident rooms, large living and dining rooms, kitchen, laundry, library and coffee shop. A series of courtyards provides access from the high ceilinged living rooms to the gardens, one of which will contain a memorial accessible to the public.
The new facility provides nearly three times the number of resident rooms as the original building, greatly improving privacy and incorporating dramatically different space and design standards.
Australia’s largest privately owned aged care provider, Domain Principal Group (DPG) commissioned architectural firm Allen Jack+Cottier (AJ+C) to review of all possible options for the existing site, ultimately opting to build a completely new high care facility.
DPG general manager (commercial) Sean Bilton said the brief to AJ+C was to create a high quality, contemporary living facility that is both functional, and also in a real sense, a home.
“AJ+C’s response incorporates many years of specialist experience designing for elderly people - we are very pleased with the outcome,” Mr Bilton said.
AJ+C general manager and principal, Peter Ireland, said that designing a residential facility for elderly people was a highly specialised skill that the firm had been evolving and refining for decades.
“It begins with a deep understanding of how we think and feel as we get older, overlaid with a sense of how real communities are built,” Mr Ireland said.
“The three things we know from experience are absolutely crucial are clear way-finding, a sense of homeliness or ‘liveability’, and a building that is flexible and serviceable into its later life.”
Three elderly residents died during the inferno and eight died from injuries afterwards.
In November last year, Roger Dean, who worked as a nurse at the home, pleaded not guilty to murdering the 11 people who died from the fire. He also pleaded not guilty to eight charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to a further eight residents.
A trial date has been set for May this year. Prosecutors say the trial is expected to last four weeks.