As Access Consultants, the accessibility experts at MGAC have to balance many often-competing elements to find the right solution for a client. In our latest case study, Associate Director Anthony Leuzzi looks at one such example in retirement-aged care facilities.
The usual approach in retirement-aged care facilities (RACFs)
MGAC has completed many high-end retirement-aged care facilities, also better known as RACFs.
These projects often follow a particular protocol. Typically, the class 9c building is constructed in line with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and other relevant Australian standards. Within these guidelines, there’s a number of granular details that need to be adhered to.
For example, under BCA D3, common areas are required to be accessible from the pedestrian entrance to at least one floor containing sole occupancy units and to the entrance doorway of each sole occupancy located on that level.
Similarly, access under the AS1428.1 is required within not less than one of each type of room or space for use in common by the resident including:
- A cooking facility
- Gymnasium swimming pool
- Common laundry
- Games room
- TV room
- Individual shop dining room
- Public viewing lounge room
Where a ramp complying with AS1428.1 or a passenger lift is installed, access is also required under the following circumstances:
(a) To the entry doorway of each sole occupancy unit, and,
(b) To and within rooms or spaces for use in common by the resident
(c) Located on the levels serviced by the lift or ramp
These requirements are also In line with the BCA table D3.1 – General building access requirements
In addition to these circumstances, several sole occupancy units are required to be made accessible in line with AS1428.1. In this case, each sole occupancy unit requires door clearance and circulation space around the kitchenette bedroom and toilet. Perhaps most importantly, the accessible toilet needs to have a certain internal dimeson (typically 2630mm x 2350mm) to support the circulation space around the toilet pan, wash basin and shower recess in line with AS1428.1.
As industry leading access consultants, we are acutely aware of these necessities. However, we’re also determined to work in ways that support our clients’ individual requirements for the betterment of their spaces and internal working relationships.
The MGAC approach
A recent scenario with a client, we worked closely with them to better understand how we could maintain a high level of compliance with technical standards, while also maximising their space.
In our assessment, we found that there is a negative impact in providing such a large toilet internal space as stipulated by the technical guidelines. For this client, the required space would have a negative impact on the caring and intimate relationships between staff and residents.
With close consultation with clients, MGAC offered a performance solution based on the daily operations of staff and the level of care offered to the residents. By using specific information gathered from the client, MGAC was able to recommend a solution that was ultimately supported by the client. Regardless of its bespoke nature, this type of performance solution is generally accepted by the PCA, ensuring our client is able to continue to offer the same high level of care to all the residents regardless of the level of care or physical impairment.