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The Value of Engaging Lived Experience in the Design of the Neurobehavioural Unit at the Repat Health Precinct in Adelaide

This presentation demonstrates how collaborative approaches to design can better equip commissioners and designers to create public infrastructure in a timely way and more capable of delivering the intended outcomes for its users. It uses the case study of the Neurobehavioural Unit (NBU) currently under construction at the Repat Health Precinct in Adelaide. The purpose of the NBU is to provide specialist care for people living with the most extreme behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (Tier 7 BPSD). It has been commissioned in response to recommendations following the closure of the Oakden Older Person’s Mental Health Service.

The presentation will outline a facilitated design process that emphasised the lived experience of families of people living with dementia as its primary influence, and included direct collaboration with policy makers, the site’s architects and consumer advocates. The conditions necessary for enabling all of these stakeholders to meaningfully contribute and collaborate with each other will also be described. In addition to families directly contributing to NBU’s design, the process generated a set of six key design principles and facilitated a deeper understanding of how designing for the most extreme symptoms of dementia may require some nuances distinct from more ‘mainstream’ dementia design.

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