RSL Care + RDNS (now Bolton Clarke) and other major industry retirement and residential community operators have come together with QUT’s respected Institute for Future Environments in a research collaboration focused on changing the way we design for ageing Australians.
The Senior Living Innovation project, officially launched this week, began collecting data in February after a six-month planning phase.
RSL Care + RDNS will partner with QUT and four other industry partners in the research, which will focus on exploring the implications of and drivers for change, developing solutions that optimise lifestyles for future seniors, and translating them into innovative and sustainable housing and service options.
“Senior Living Innovation is a new kind of research initiative and one of the first where the partners work together, develop projects together and analyse together,” project lead Professor Laurie Buys said.
“It’s a brand new way of working with industry and it gives us the chance to be part of something that is going to shape the future.
“Our aim is to challenge truths and drive innovation and leadership.”
RSL Care + RDNS General Manager Property Development and Asset Management James Mantis said the organisation was excited to be part of the project.
“We wanted to understand the conversations that are happening among senior Australians and their influencers when they are looking to make future life choices,” he said.
“The ability to look at innovative and alternative solutions through industry-led disruption is important to us, and the ability to work with QUT across a multi-disciplinary, multi-faculty approach is exciting.”
Initial research included a social media mapping exercise which used software designed to dive deep into public conversations on social media around ageing and senior living.
Then in March, 90 participants aged 50-92 from across Australia took part in an intensive four-day online forum.
Initial results showed the priorities across all age groups were family and social relationships, and intergenerational and community connections.
People across all age groups were “busy getting on with life and planning for the future”, taking part in valued activities, from work to volunteering.
There was a strong attachment to home and community, and participants talked about technology including computers, mobile phones and internet.
A third information-gathering exercise used a community engagement booth at Brisbane’s Gasworks which invited people to provide input on what was important to them in an interactive environment.
Key themes were love, life, happiness, work, family and connection.
“People across age groups were all talking about the same things,” Professor Buys said.
Future activities for the project will include a design challenge informed by the data gathered, which will seek to attract innovative and disruptive opportunities that can be translated into industry-leading products and services for older people.
For more information on QUT’s Senior Living Innovation initiative, visit https://research.qut.edu.au/seniorliving/