Kuala Lumpur, 18 August 2016
Woods Bagot together with Aged Care Group (ACG) hosted a networking platform called After Hours Intelligent Conversations to initiate discussions on design and architecture for positive ageing. Creating an aged-friendly environment is parallel to creating a happy ageing lifestyle for not only the elderly, but also ourselves and future generations to come.
The purpose of the event was to draw from the work of thought leaders, experts and mavericks from different disciplines to exchange new ideas, experiences, build and test knowledge, while developing new ways of thinking about design and architecture of Malaysia’s townships that promote multigenerational living with purpose-built aged care facilities, in a discussion facilitated by Carol Yip, CEO of ACG.
The exclusive event was attended by 60 guests who are industry leaders and experts from township planning development, government organisations, developers and contractors, real estate agencies and financial institutions, with To’ Puan Dr Safurah Jaafar from the Ministry of Health, Fabian Bigar from PEMANDU and Woods Bagot’s Director of Development in South East Asia and Health & Science Sector Specialist, Matthew Gaal and Nikki Beckman respectively, leading the discussion.
In her opening speech, To’ Puan Dr Safurah gave her insights into the Ministry of Health’s role in developing aged care facilities and retirement villages for assisted living and independent living respectively, which is to find the best mechanism to facilitate the industry and ensure that the residents are getting a fair service. She also emphasised that developers and operators keen to build such facilities should follow and plan according to the new Private Aged Healthcare Facility Act which is due soon.
Addressing the concerns of developers, she said “the Act will ensure that the provision of long term care is of quality and affordable because in long-term care, people just need friendly features and not necessarily sophisticated equipment. In the meantime, while waiting for the new Act to be effective, developers and operators can make reference to the current Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 586 that has regulations for private nursing homes if they want to build aged care facility.”
Responding to the question on what factors should precede building an age friendly environment during the discussion; Fabian Bigar stated that the first thing to get across to all segments of Malaysian society is awareness on ageing “It is not easy to convince people that it is something that we need to take seriously, and we have very little time. Developers and whoever else within the aged care business needs to help people overcome the perception that this is only for the rich. You need to develop projects for people from all walks of life and make it affordable for the middle income and less fortunate.”
Drawing from their expertise in their unique business of creating a human-centred experience for positive ageing in design and architecture that is purposed for multi-generational living, Matthew Gaal and Nikki Beckman shared their thoughts on the topic. “I think aged care suffers because it isn’t appealing to talk about. It’s not something people go to tertiary education to end up doing. The perception of ageing and the value we place on our aged population needs to change. That’s the most critical thing as everything else comes from that. Aged care needs a better word.” said Ms Beckman.
Mr Gaal further added “There isn’t that connectivity between developments that is necessary and in Malaysia we have enormous opportunity from a development perspective to generate and design buildings and infrastructure that accommodates everybody. It’s specifically designing for an aged bracket but about designing holistically.”
Carol Yip concluded the discussion stating that with the availability of a universal design, developers and operators should look at the existing Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 586 under Part XXVII Private Nursing Home for requirements of aged care facility (while waiting for the impending Act to be gazetted) and work together with the Ministry of Health (MOH) early on during the planning stage when developing aged care facilities within retirement villages or when integrating them into normal housing or townships.