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Architectural Blog Series: Queensway Carleton Hospital, Acute Care for the Elderly

Welcome back to our Architectural Blog Series. This month, we take a look at the new Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit at Ottawa’s Queensway Carleton Hospital. The 34 bed, state-of-the-art facility is the very first to be purpose-built, and is the second of its kind in Ontario.

Ageing and Healthcare

Queensway Carleton Hospital serves one of Canada’s fastest growing and ageing populations where nearly 14% of the population is over the age of 65. Over the next 20 years the number is expected to double.

Providing acute care for elderly patients results in improved recovery times, reduced complications, maintenance of their functioning level prior to hospitalization, and shorter hospital stays. Combined, these reduce the likelihood of elderly returning to the hospital.

Facility Description:

The ACE Unit was conceived to address a shortfall in care for the elderly. Geriatric patients require a higher and more intense level of care than is available at most regular hospitals. Everything from the hospital admissions process, to hospital stay, to transition home requires consideration to accommodate the special needs of older individuals.

The unit was designed to focus on the particular needs of the elderly, catering to those experiencing reduced or challenged senses, such as compromised vision, hearing impairment, and memory loss. These figured prominently in the design process, from selection of distinctive finishes to the operation of specialized clinical features provided by the hospital.

Design Concepts for the Elderly

The design concepts are simple and common sense, yet have a considerable impact on both patients and staff. They include:

  • Anti-slip floors to reduce the risk of falling
  • Non-glossy finishes, to reduce glare
  • Corridors lined with hand rails for support
  • Padded benches at regular intervals in circulation spaces, to allow for rests (patients are encouraged to walk around and maintain mobility)
  • Private rooms with large windows to maximise daylight
  • Colour-coded rooms to make way-finding easier
  • Beds with adjustable heights to facilitate getting in and out
  • Staff offices designed with the ACE concept in mind to encourage movement and interaction with patients


Sustainability Goals and Achievements

LEED and sustainability principles formed part of the design. Notable features include:

• LED lighting
• Significant natural light sources
• Local sourcing of materials
• Heat recovery processes

Providing evidenced-based care in an environment designed solely for the elderly translates into the best care available for this vulnerable segment of the population. The ACE unit acknowledges and respects the unique needs older patients. It supports patients and their families during hospitalization and continues as they transition back home.

Project Details

• Project Scope: Addition of new wing at Queensway Carleton Hospital
• Size: 34,000 SF
• Construction cost: $9.7 M

Does it Work?

The ACE opened in November 2016. Quantifiable data is being collected to determine how the unit is meeting its mandate, both architecturally and operationally. What is already evident is the satisfaction being expressed by both patients and staff. There is clearly a perception that, while providing the best in care, the ACE is also welcoming and supportive, so much so that it recently celebrated its second wedding in the patient lounge.

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