The Meaning of Gardens in Aged Care: Residents' Landscape Experience in Australian Facilities
User experience is an important focus for environmental design research. This research aims to understand residents' experience as users of Australian aged-care facilities, focusing on the landscape. In order to capture and analyse individual user experience, this study applies three different methods: unstructured interviews, Go-Along videorecording and digital storytelling. These methods enable users, especially senior users, to voice their opinions about the environment via digital means.
... a digital means. The research fieldwork has been conducted over two years across two different aged-care facilities in Brisbane, Australia. The primary purpose of this research was to develop a more complex understanding of individual user experience in aged-care settings by investigating elements that contribute to user engagement in the landscape. The secondary purpose was to explore the role of participatory media such as digital storytelling in understanding user experience in an environmental design context. This research suggests that the gardens in the two chosen sites are quasi-private spaces in which residents associate their previous domestic garden experiences and memories with their current living environment. The attachment strengthens meanings of the garden and provides strong influences on their current engagement in the aged-care garden. With a purpose of creating a healthful landscape in Australian aged care facilities, I argue for future design to provide a holistic landscape experience by integrating emotional, social and sensory landscape experiences for residents. Specifically, my findings suggest: (1) Landscape design in aged-care facilities should focus on creating healthful environments, rather than only on healing; (2) Gardens in aged-care facilities need to be viewed as quasi-private spaces; (3) The aesthetics of professional landscape designs for these spaces need to be challenged as residents should be seen as co-creators of the garden; (4) Flexibility needs to be incorporated into designs, as garden spaces in aged-care ii facilities evolve over time; (5) Memories of residents should be engaged; (6) More sensory experiences need to be created within the landscape; (7) A holistic approach to landscape design should be adopted. My research also recommends the transformation of current understandings of therapeutic landscapes to "healthful landscape" by broadening the current over-medicalised understanding of health. These findings can assist in implementing strategies to advise, support and enable future design solutions at aged-care facilities in an ageing society. iii