The state of physical environments in Australian residential aged care facilities

Moore, Kirsten J., Hill, Keith D., Robinson, Andrew L., Haines, Terry P., Haralambous, Betty and Nitz, Jennifer C. (2011) The state of physical environments in Australian residential aged care facilities. Australian Health Review, 35 4: 412-417. doi:10.1071/AH10932

Author Moore, Kirsten J.
Hill, Keith D.
Robinson, Andrew L.
Haines, Terry P.
Haralambous, Betty
Nitz, Jennifer C.
Title The state of physical environments in Australian residential aged care facilities
Journal name Australian Health Review   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0156-5788
Publication date 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/AH10932
Volume 35
Issue 4
Start page 412
End page 417
Total pages 6
Place of publication Collingwood, VIC, Australia
Publisher C S I R O Publishing
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
This paper examines the quality and safety of the physical environment in Australian residential aged care facilities (RACFs).


Cross-sectional study. One assessor completed environmental audits to identify areas of the physical environment that needed to be addressed to improve the wellbeing and safety of residents.


Nine RACFs participating in a broader falls prevention project were audited. RACFs were located in Queensland, Tasmania or Victoria and were chosen by convenience to represent high level, low level, dementia and psychogeriatric care, regional and metropolitan facilities, small and large facilities and a culturally specific facility.

Main outcome measure.
An environmental audit tool was adapted from a tool designed to foster older person friendly hospital environments. The tool consisted of 147 items.

Across all sites 450 items (34%) required action. This ranged from 21 to 44% across sites. The audit domains most commonly requiring action included signage, visual perception and lighting, and outdoor areas.

Although not representative of all residential facilities in Australia, this audit process has identified common environmental problems across a diverse mix of residential care facilities. Results highlight the need for further investigation into the quality of physical environments, and interventions to improve physical environments in Australian RACFs. What is known about the topic? Despite the importance of the physical environment on the health, wellbeing and safety of older people in residential aged care facilities, few studies have comprehensively evaluated the physical environment in facilities in Australia. What does this paper add? This paper provides findings from comprehensive audits of nine residential aged care facilities representing a broad range of facility settings in terms of location, level and type of care and target population. Findings indicate that each facility had at least 21% of items requiring action with an average of 34% of items requiring action across all facilities. What are the implications for practitioners? There is a need to undertake intermittent, thorough assessments of the physical environments in which residents live and, if applicable, implement strategies or modifications to improve the environment. Areas requiring particular consideration may be lighting, colour contrasts, signage and outdoor areas
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 19 Dec 2011, 08:33:37 EST by Jennifer Nitz on behalf of School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences