As a Blue Zone, the Greek Island of Icaria has the highest volume of nonagenarians on the planet with 1 in 3 people living into their 90s with virtually no signs of Dementia. There are several factors which medical scientists believe contribute to the longevity of people on the Blue Zones, among them are moderate physical activity, an omnivorous diet and engagement in social life.
Situated in the Mount Edgecombe Retirement Village, the Mount Edgecombe Care Centre draws on the Blue Zone factors for health and well-being to design a care centre to incorporate natural light, colour and social spaces into its design, and a varied and healthy menu for residents. The Mount Edgecombe Care Centre adopts a holistic approach to well-being that covers both the practical and intangible aspects that make a care centre for the elderly.
TotalCare Founder and CEO, Cornel Nieuwenhuizen explains, “Our philosophy is linked to the ‘Blue Zones’ approach that identifies factors for healthy ageing and one key factor is social interaction with your community. When we begin conceptualising a care centre, we marry practicality, regional context, the emotional impact of space and ways to foster greater community interaction.”
With a deliberate move away from the typical ‘old age homes’ and with fostering social interaction central to the design of the Mount Edgecombe Care Centre, social spaces and rest areas are thoughtfully designed and positioned.
“A space must be welcoming and give residents a sense of physical safety which in turn promotes feelings of confidence and independence, and that’s really important to us. Residents who have a sense of independence are more likely to opt to socialise by choice but also, we have found that if furniture in our social spaces is uncomfortable or cumbersome it can discourage residents from socialising and we really don’t want that to happen. Our thoughtfully-designed social areas are conducive to this, with the provision of smaller lounges in close proximity to the Assisted Living rooms and a larger communal lounge, a cafe and patios to meet with others.” Nieuwenhuizen continues.
The Mount Edgecombe Care Centre is proactive about the physical safety of residents with spaces cleverly-designed to minimise the use of steps and loose carpets or rugs which may present a tripping hazard. Soft-edged furniture is used, and hard structural elements have a soft finish while furniture below hip level, like coffee tables, is replaced with ottomans in soft materials to make movement through a space less hazardous. Furniture is specifically-designed for the comfort of elderly residents; and chairs are sturdy to provide adequate physical support, and seating is not too deep and low in consideration of residents with compromised mobility. The communal social and rest areas at the Mount Edgecombe Care Centre have been designed to invite natural light in through glassed doors and windows while covered patios also provide the opportunity for residents to sit outside.
Privacy ranks highly on the list of basic human emotional needs (along with socialisation, security and a sense of belonging) and with that, each of the Assisted Living rooms has a beautiful, and practical en-suite bathroom.
“Although many of our residents at the Mount Edgecombe Care Centre require assistance with daily tasks, we want to respect their sense of dignity by providing them with the opportunity to perform certain tasks and activities autonomously.” Says Nieuwenhuizen.
The design of the Mount Edgecombe Care Centres strives to strike a delicate balance between preventative safety measures, hygiene, aesthetics and well-being, as Nieuwenhuizen ends, “We want to give our residents a feeling of confidence and independence in a place that feels like home, because, this essentially is their home. And home is a safe space, a familiar place where one has taken time to curate their space to be welcoming, comfortable and aesthetically-pleasing.”