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Debbie De Fiddes

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Day Presenting:  Monday 29 October
Time: 12:00pm-12:30pm
Session Concurrent A5- Environment and Design
Presentation Title A new era: What happens to my place?
Position Title CEO
Company De Fiddes Design

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The brief was to deliver a contemporary and holistic residential aged care facility design congruent with cohort preferences, latest innovations and research to support the client’s vision to provide premium aged care services now and in time to come. The facility embraces the quintessential Australian semi-rural way of life to provide a fundamental sense of home, familiarity and sanctuary for all. The bushlands, rolling hills and seasons under the sun are the essence of the design which drew upon evidence based practice and the cognitive and mobility needs of the elderly. The finishes provide appropriate colour and contrast, wayfinding and sensory elements to create a comfortable and enabling environment which in turn promotes wellbeing.

A sense of community is fostered through the design of a central activity precinct to encourage residents into the social centre of the facility. Considered spaces, themes and custom furnishings provide various intimate and group interaction opportunities. Bonds are nurtured as residents gather around stone fireplaces which provide the heart of the home. The direct connection to the outdoors via large outdoor terraces and balconies promotes access to the positive effects of sunlight and fresh air. The friendly and inviting building facade along with lush gardens links the new facility with the adjacent existing independent living units. An outdoor amphitheatre and café encourage social integration and wider community events with small sitting and private dining rooms providing intimate areas to connect with loved ones.

A strong identifiable entry, flush thresholds, door approach spaces, wide doors, grab rails and architectural visual cues are just some of the elements permitting easy manoeuvrability throughout. Integrating a state of the art staff call system, varied lighting system with appropriate lux levels, accessible light switches with contrasting back plates all contribute to a supportive living environment. The grouping of 6 bedrooms in a pod format provides small scale within a larger facility. Storage facilities in each lobby increases the operational efficiency by reducing staff travel times to remote stores. A centrally located staff station with subtle sight lines along the main corridor and common areas permits discrete observation. Life cycle costing studies also determined the most economical services over the buildings life.

It is possible to create environments which promote enablement, ageing well, sustainability and service offerings well into the future. The secret lies in strong stakeholder collaboration from the outset and understanding connection to place.


Debbie is passionate about creating beautiful environments incorporating supportive spaces that work well for residents, staff and their visitors through evidence based design. She has extensive knowledge of the specific needs of our seniors including mobility, dementia, visual and hearing impairments –factors to be taken into consideration when designing in this specialised area.

Debbie established Design Guidelines for Dementia and Aged Care for the NSW Health Department along with contributing numerous articles for the Australian Journal of Dementia Care, Australian Ageing Agenda and is the author of “Universal by Design”. Being at the forefront of innovative design, knowledge and best practice, Debbie is a regular speaker at conferences both nationally and internationally.

Dedication to improving the lives of people as they age is paramount to Debbie’s success, along with fostering a team of talented, professionals who complement each other’s skills, working proficiently together to create beautiful, enabling environments.