Russell Yelland

Copperhouse Court, Aged Care redevelopment, Whyalla

Completed: 2020
Client: Whyalla Aged Care Inc.

“Ageing in place” looks considerably different from when we first designed for Copperhouse Court in the early 90s. With more of our ageing population entering supported living later in life, nursing needs have become more complex. And so it follows that design for dementia, palliative and respite care facilities must be better informed by best practice specialist care principles.

In a significant expansion and refurbishment of Whyalla Aged Care’s Copperhouse Court facility, we sought to stir residents’ memories and emotions; encourage physical activity; and promote community interaction for improved quality of life.

What we did: Aged Care facility redevelopment
Memory Support Unit
Palliative Care
Respite facilities

Completed in early 2020, the facility expanded its previous accommodation capacity by 33 per cent and includes the addition of a new 14-bed memory support wing. As a key visual memory aid first explored in our 2016 Yeltana Nursing Home upgrade, we painted each pair of recessed doors along the residential corridor a unique colour. Framed glass memory boxes are inset into each entry, displaying personal objects that help to calm and orientate those arriving at their rooms. Each resident has their own ensuite, and ceiling tracks for slings have been installed above all beds, circumventing the need for cumbersome mobile lifters.

To encourage resident mobility, flooring is continuous throughout, with bedrooms arranged around a closed-loop corridor. At one end of the loop, a “clearing” with high ceilings and clerestory windows offers bright, vertical relief: a calm space where residents can stop to rest or chat with neighbours.  

 In addition to the new wing, we made strategic upgrades to five separate buildings across the site, carefully staging the extensions and refurbishments to minimise interruption to care. We prioritised small, impactful additions like a dedicated salon, where residents can visit the hairdresser or attend allied health appointments. Other improvements include an upgraded kitchen facility with servery onto an extended central dining and living zone. In line with Designing for Dementia principles, we finished communal zones in more stimulating, warmer-themed colours like terracotta, while the bedrooms are kept to calming tones like yellows and greens.

Photography credits:R&Y